Washington State University students face another tuition hike after deep funding cuts to higher education recently passed in the state Legislature.
The WSU Board of Regents is expected to approve the proposed 16 percent tuition hike in a special meeting June 6.
The tuition increase, which was recommended by the Legislature after it passed the state budget earlier this week, would raise the annual tuition paid by a typical in-state undergraduate student to $9,374. In-state graduate students will also pay 16 percent more, or $9,676 per year. Tuition for non-resident undergraduate and graduate students would increase 8 percent, to $20,652 and $22,830 respectively.
WSU President Elson Floyd expressed concern about the increase in a post to his online blog, but said the increase was necessary to protect programs and prevent even larger deficits in the university’s budget.
“Unfortunately, to maintain our programs in the face of these budget cuts, we do not have any other option,” he wrote. “Even with the revenue from this increase, and with the expectation that we will admit the largest freshman class in our history in the fall, our university will be operating with fewer dollars in the upcoming biennium than we did in 2009-2011.”
The state budget, which includes $535 million in cuts to colleges and universities and is awaiting Gov. Chris Gregoire’s signature, reduces WSU’s budgeted state appropriation by about $108 million during the 2011-2013 biennium, said WSU spokesman Darin Watkins.
That represents a 26 percent reduction in the university’s current maintenance budget level and means that, over four years, the university will have experienced a state appropriated budget reduction of 52 percent, or $231 million, he said.
Watkins said university officials have not decided on how they will bridge that 26 percent deficit.
“We took substantial cuts in administration last time,” he said. “We took substantial cuts in a number of programs that had to be eliminated. You’re going to see a mixture of all of those things again.”
However, he said, “we really do need to wait until students, administrators and faculty are back on campus before we make any large programmatic cuts. We’re postponing any major decisions until the fall.”
Tuition was increased 14 percent in the 2009-2010 biennium and another 14 percent in the 2010-2011 biennium.