WA tuition increases second highest in nation before Senate froze rates

Sen. Joe Fain with students and faculty from Highline Community College.

A new study released May 1 showed that students at Washington’s public colleges and universities faced the second highest tuition increase in the country following the economic recession in 2008. Despite the substantial cost shift to students and families, Sen. Joe Fain believes the Senate’s commitment to increased state support for colleges, universities and scholarships are a step in the right direction.

“Continuing education after high school is vital for students entering an increasingly competitive job market,” said Fain, of Auburn, who worked to add higher education funding in the 2013 budget and 2014 budget update. “We must make our research institutions, vocational programs and all other learning opportunities more accessible to everyone.”

The previous decade saw a dramatic cost increase for college students; even before the recession there were double-digit tuition hikes. However, budget proposals from the Senate during the last two legislative sessions featured a strong commitment to students and ultimately held tuition rates flat.

Before 2013 rates had increased each year since 1986, in some years by as much as 20 percent. “The last time tuition didn’t increase on Washington students two years in a row was 1981, the year I was born,” continued Fain.

The study was conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and shows Washington’s average tuition rate at public colleges and universities increasing by $4,085 since 2008, which ranks second behind Arizona. Washington was also only one of seven states where the average rate increased by more than $3,000 during that period.

In 2013 Fain was recognized by the University of Washington Impact – the institution’s legislative advocacy organization – as a ‘Dedicated Dawg’ for playing “a key role as an advocate for higher education in budget deliberations, and in securing state funding to help keep tuition rates affordable for Washington students and families.”