One thousand dollars: That’s the cost of textbooks for the school year or food for the quarter. Whatever it is to you, it’s what students will give the university in tuition increases next fall.
The university has raised annual tuition by about $1,000 for both in-state and out-of-state undergraduates for the 2010-11 school year. The university’s Board of Regents voted June 10 to raise tuition, meaning the cost for an in-state student at the UW for one academic year will be $8,701.
Nearly everybody is paying more. Graduate students will pay between $700 and $3,700 more next year, depending on their program. The only students whose tuition didn’t increase are non-resident dentistry students. They aren’t paying any more than the approximately $50,000 in annual tuition they already pay.
This is the second year the university’s Board of Regents has exercised its temporary authority to raise tuition above the 7-percent cap set by the state Legislature. University administrators have used tuition increases to partially offset state budget cuts. The university has raised tuition about $2,000 for in-state students since the state’s budget crisis began during the 2008-09 school year.
This year, board members made the same case that tuition increases are necessary to preserve a variety of course offerings, high-caliber faculty, libraries and writing centers.
The board’s student member, Ben Golden, said the increase is a “tough pill to swallow,” but a necessary one.
“I cringe at the thought of raising tuition $1,000 for undergrads next year, and even more for some professional and graduate programs — a ‘yes’ vote will raise my own tuition next year over $2,000 at the law school — but I also know that some things are worth paying for,” Golden said at the June board meeting as he read from a prepared statement.
Tuition increases expected
The university’s budget office presented its proposed budget to the Board of Regents during this past May. The regents had several questions about tuition, but none suggested changes to the proposed increases. When June came around, they approved the increases.
The university maintains that paying for an education at the UW is still affordable when one compares tuition to similar public universities nationwide.
“We are not pricing ourselves out of the market, if you will,” said Paul Jenny, vice provost for planning and budgeting, during a presentation to the regents.
Tuition increases coupled with financial-aid increases
Financial-aid dollars have increased as tuition has increased. This next academic year, an additional $4 million will be available to both undergraduate and graduate students as tuition waivers or grants.
UW administrators also point to state and federal programs that could mitigate the cost of higher education for some students. Federal Pell grants and State Need Grants — like the “Husky Promise” at the UW — could help cover costs for low-income students. Federal tax credits could help those who do not qualify for need-based aid.
Legislative session could see tuition fight
The state Legislature is facing another budget deficit — estimated now at anywhere between $2 billion and $5 billion — as it plans to convene next January. That means UW administrators and students will again flock to Olympia to defend the university’s share of state dollars.
University administrators have already debated two legislative goals: faculty pay raises and tuition-setting authority.
“Faculty pay is the most important way that we can allocate new dollars that we have,” said UW president Mark Emmert.
The UW may be seeking money from the state Legislature to pay faculty. Faculty at the UW have not been granted their 2-percent pay increases during the past two years because of the university’s budget woes.
For students, allowing the regents to set tuition would mean the state Legislature would have limited control over how much tuition fluctuates annually. This could mean higher rates of tuition increases for students.
Incoming ASUW President Madeleine McKenna said she has two strategies to help keep costs manageable for students.
First is a voter-registration campaign to inject the electorate with more youth votes. At the very least, she said, students could have a measurable impact in the 43rd District, which includes the U-District, Wallingford and Capitol Hill.
“I want to make sure that, at least here in our home district, we’re supported,” she said.
After the November vote, the ASUW will try to have a presence in Olympia, where students will lobby legislators to preserve funding for the university.
Reach reporter Andrew Doughman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please read our Comment policy.