Declining state support impacts affordability for all students
In an on-going series of posts this week we discuss what proposed cuts to our higher education system will do to our state’s future.
To keep college affordable, the state should maintain a commitment to cover the greater part of the costs of instruction and students should be able to avoid additional costs by completing their degree on time.
Yet, at our state’s four-year institutions students are paying over half of their education costs and across-the-board, students will be paying a higher percent of education expenses in the next two years. With tuition increases projected to be somewhere between 9 to 16 percent, coupled with the costs associated with increased time to degree, students will be taking on the lion’s share of the cost. In fact, the cost to attend a public four-year college has increased almost 70 percent since 1991.
Due to declining state support, students are now paying on average over half of education costs at four-year institutions (Figure 3).
Community and technical colleges are experiencing a similar shift in state funding support, although to a much lesser degree. Community colleges have traditionally been a more affordable option, providing an entry point for students from low-to-moderate income families and adults with no previous college education.
Did you know?
• Western Washington University (WWU) reports that the state supported 72 percent of its costs until 1994. Through the years, state support has eroded and currently covers only 44 percent of the costs of instruction at WWU. As a result, the cost responsibility has shifted to students who are paying more than half of the operating costs.
• At the University of Washington, state funding is the same as it was in 1990, even though 10,000 additional students are being served today.
Under the 2011-13 budget proposals:
• If even the lowest-level of cuts were enacted by the state legislature, average time to degree at Western Washington University would increase from 4.6 years to 5.7 years. In total, this added time in school would cost students an additional $287 million in expenses such as tuition, room and board, books, etc.
• At Washington State University, time to complete an undergraduate degree would increase by at least one semester as a result of fewer courses available.
• At the University of Washington, the cost responsibility to students would rise to 65 percent, with the state paying only 35 percent of the cost. Time to degree would increase by one quarter, costing students $2,900 in additional tuition (at current tuition levels).
For more information read our new policy brief, “Undermining Prosperity: Higher Education Cuts Weaken Access, Affordability, and Quality.”