State Relations

April 5, 2009

Editorials support higher tuition to reduce cuts

Today’s news has two strong editorials calling for lawmakers to raise tuition in order to reduce the effect of budget cuts proposed last week.  The Tacoma News Tribune says in part:

Olympia needs a mental adjustment. In good times, when direct appropriations are easier to come by, capping tuition might make sense. In this emergency, business as usual could be disastrous.

A 14 percent tuition hike would not be the burden it sounds like. With Congress expanding Pell grants and the federal tuition tax credit, the increase in financial assistance will more than offset another 14 percent in tuition – which would be $875 a year at the UW.

Emmert calculates that only families with incomes greater than $160,000 would pay more after the tuition increase than they do now.

Lawmakers first face a threshold decision: Do they genuinely want to preserve college opportunity for the state’s citizens in this fiscal firestorm? If the answer is yes, the very least they can do is let these schools charge what’s necessary to keep their doors open.

You can read the entire Tacoma editorial here.

The Everett Herald also supports higher tuition, saying in part:

If Washington is to emerge from the recession and the current budget crisis with a stable, competitive economy, state budget negotiators must minimize the damage to higher education.

Budget proposals released by the Senate and House last week would gravely undermine a central cog in the state’s economic engine: its four-year universities. The sheer size of the budget hole — more than $9 billion over the next 27 months, before counting around $3 billion in federal stimulus backfill — makes painful spending cuts unavoidable. For state universities, though, a considerable portion of that pain can and should be offset by tuition increases, an option made more palatable by planned increases in student financial aid.

The complete Everett Herald editorial can be found here.

We are hopeful that as budget negotiations continue, support will grow for the idea of reducing some of the most devastating effects of the proposed cuts through higher tuition, especially since financial aid improvements mean that the net effect on most students will be zero.  Expect this conversation to continue in the coming days.