Office of the President

November 19, 2018

Team of rivals – working with WSU for Washington students

Ana Mari Cauce

yes its possibleThis week, as we gear up for an epic contest on the football field, the University of Washington and Washington State University are joining forces in support of something even more important than the outcome of the Apple Cup: ensuring students and their families in the state of Washington know that earning a four-year degree is possible. As our state’s two public research universities, it’s our shared responsibility to dispel the myths and misperceptions about college affordability and the value of a college degree on the job market.

Research shows that many students and their families think a college degree is financially out of reach. But national headlines about rising tuition, student debt and default rates obscure an important truth here in Washington. Nearly half of bachelor’s degree earners in Washington – and 60 percent at the UW – leave with no debt at all. And of those students who do take on loans for their undergraduate education, the average in our state is less than $24,000 for all four years. Indeed, Washington ranks second in the nation in the amount of financial aid it provides to undergraduates to pay for college, and through the Husky Promise, the UW ensures that the cost of tuition is not a barrier for low-income students.

The data showing the value of a college degree are just as clear. Regardless of background or family wealth, college graduates earn more and are more likely to have productive careers and healthier, more rewarding lives. College truly does create a leveling effect and it’s one of our most powerful tools for increasing equity, diversity and inclusion. But it starts with students and families across Washington having accurate information about the availability and affordability of our public colleges and universities.

This Friday, I’ll be rooting loud and proud for the Huskies from the first whistle to the last. But I’ll also be arm-in-arm with our friends and colleagues from WSU and all of our state’s public universities and community and technical colleges to ensure that Washington’s students can see that their path to higher education really is possible. They just have to take the first step.