Comments made to the Board of Governors last Thursday
• After years of disinvestment and declining state participation, the higher education sector enjoyed a watershed year of sorts in Olympia during the 2012 legislative session. Facing still another budget shortfall hundreds of millions of dollars deep, the Legislature put the brakes on higher education’s previously unstoppable descent.
• The budget includes no general reductions to our state’s colleges and universities and kept our financial aid programs whole to support students. It was a remarkable – even stunning – achievement considering the very difficult budget environment legislators found themselves in when the session began January 9, 2012.
• Although we are by no means out of the woods, their decision recognized that higher education is a part of the solution to the long-term economic problems facing our society. They recognized that our students need more education than ever before, not less. They recognized that our employers are thirsting for a highly-educated and well-trained workforce. And their budget reflects the critical importance a research university plays in protecting the industries we have and building new ones for the future.
REGENTS APPROVE 16% TUITION INCREASE:
• Two weeks ago, the Board of Regents approved a 16 percent tuition rate increase at Washington State University for resident undergraduate and graduate students, along with comparable increases for other tuition categories, beginning in the fall of 2012. This will amount to approximately $1,500 more per year for the average WSU student.
• The proposal to implement the 16 percent tuition increase was a part of the 2011-13 state biennial budget adopted by the state legislature last year. The legislative budget assumed tuition increases would be implemented by all state-funded institutions in each year of the biennium.
• A tuition committee made up of WSU students, faculty and staff recommended accepting the tuition increase as outlined by the legislature. Even with the proposed tuition increase and the favorable supplemental budget, WSU is still working through a budgeted shortfall of $40 million for the biennium. No increases are anticipated in Student’s Services and Activities (S & A) fees.
• Tuition increases at this level are unsustainable, and if continued will compromise access and affordability for Washington’s students. It is imperative that we must continue to maintain the quality of a WSU education without pricing students out of the market. As favorable as the latest supplemental budget results were, it is incumbent on all of us to continue to let our legislature know the importance our state should place on education and that these cuts are not sustainable.”