Students using financial aid face uncertain times.
As budget cuts loom in the state Legislature, financial aid eligibility could be drastically expanded from before.
Financial aid programs, such as the State Need Grant—once reserved for lower-income students—may now see their qualifications liberalized as more Washingtonians seek financial assistance to pay for college.
On May 10, the state Senate approved a bill that would allow the state’s five major public higher education institutions to raise their tuition at their inclination.
This would include tuition at the University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University and Evergreen State College.
One of the stipulations of the bill is that financial aid becomes more readily available to those who previously could not receive it. An estimated $100 million will be added to the state’s financial aid pool.
Overall funding to schools also will be impacted. During the two years following enactment of the new law, these five institutions could see state aid fall to 30 percent of their budgets, compared to more than 50 percent in recent budgets. In all, about $600 million will be slashed from higher education.
In addition, the affected colleges would have their in-state enrollment adjusted.
The University of Washington, for example, must have at least 4,000 in-state students in their freshman class if and when the bill takes effect.
On the same day that the Senate approved of the measure, The Seattle Times reported Gov. Christine Gregoire would sign the bill once it arrived at her desk.
“No one wants to raise tuition, but the fact of the matter is if we want to maintain quality and keep the doors to higher education open in this state, that bill is the key to making both of those happen,” Gregoire said in an official statement.
The proposal to allow colleges to set tuition on their own accord has been undertaken before.
However, The Times report speculates that such an idea was successful this year only because of the legislature’s objective to close the budget deficit, which is about $5.1 billion.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost