There’s some relief from the sticker shock of tuition for Washington students returning to public colleges and universities this fall.
The Washington Legislature approved a tuition freeze, which Gov. Jay Inslee signed Sunday, joining states across the country in halting decades long undergraduate tuition increases for the 2013-14 school year. The Legislature also approved an additional $119 million in funding for public colleges.
The freeze is only mandated for the upcoming school year. Universities have the option to raise tuition in 2014-15, but must increase aid programs to low-income students if they do.
On Monday, Washington State University’s governing body, the Board of Regents, held an emergency meeting to rescind a previously planned 2 percent tuition increase. Undergraduate resident tuition, plus operating and club fees, will cost $11,396 for the academic year. That doesn’t include some additional mandatory fees.
Student regent Rafael Pruneda praised students’ lobbying efforts across the state for helping to keep tuition increases in check.
This is the first time in 27 years that WSU has not increased tuition. In the last four years alone, tuition has increased by 75 percent, WSU Chief Budget Officer Joan King said.
“This is the first time we’ve seen this kind of reinvestment by the state,” King said.
Universities across the state have seen similar tuition increases. The University of Washington raised tuition by 14 percent last year and 20 percent the year before. This year, tuition and fees at the UW will remain at $12,383 for the school year.
UW Vice Provost Paul Jenny said the legislative session, in spite of hurdles, was a success for higher education and students are thrilled about the news.
Not every university has determined its mandatory fees for student health, facilities and the like, though most project slight increases. Eastern Washington University’s tuition and fees are projected to be about $7,960. Western Washington University will cost $8,800. Central Washington University’s tuition and fees will run $7,200. The Evergreen State College’s will be $8,530.
Like Washington schools, colleges in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Minnesota all voted this week to keep tuition prices at the same level as last year.
Jennifer Ma, an independent policy analyst for the College Board, said tuition freezes aren’t unprecedented.
“However, based on what we’ve seen in the news, it does look like there is a larger number of states (and) schools that have decided to freeze tuition for the 2013-14 academic year than in the past,” Ma said via email on Tuesday.