The two-year state budget passed by the Washington State Legislature to escape a government shutdown in June has raised tuition for students attending state schools. For the current 2017-18 academic school year, tuition rose at community colleges, technical schools and public universities — including UW Tacoma — by 2.2 percent.
Resident undergraduate students at UW are now paying $215 more for tuition each school year.
UW posted the increase to official websites and tuition statements, but failed to notify students through email or news announcements.
“The base tuition rate increase of 2.2 percent is the same across all three campuses,” said University of Washington spokesperson Victor Balta. “Some fees might vary between campuses.”
Boards of Regents at universities across Washington state were required to react to the new budget and compensate for the reduced funds by raising tuition. Washington State University’s Board of Regents met shortly after the budget was made and voted to raise tuition by the necessary 2.2 percent. An announcement was made July 12 on WSU’s news webpage shortly after the change.
UW’s Board of Regents also raised tuition for students, but no such news announcement was made.
“The Office of Planning & Budgeting finalized the tuition rates on its website, and Student Fiscal Services used that information to update students’ billing pages in MyUW,” Balta said. “Students could view the new billing information in late August or early September.”
However, most students are still unaware of the $215 annual increase.
UWT senior and American studies major, Ali Smith, said, “I’m not too concerned about the increase but I’m sure students, including myself, would have appreciated a notice.”
According to Mentha Hynes-Wilson, Vice Chancellor for Students and Enrollment Services at UWT, a notification about the increase is planned to be sent out soon.
“The message is intentionally scheduled to go out after the first full week of classes to avoid messaging overload for our students since they receive so many welcome messages at the start of the academic year,” Hynes-Wilson said.
This increase goes against a landmark trend beginning in 2013 when a tuition freeze was put into place. The 2015-2017 budget — passed by the Washington State Legislature — reduced tuition costs between 5 and 20 percent at state schools.
A 2007 lawsuit against the state of Washington argued the state was violating its own constitution by inadequately funding children’s education. The Washington Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the state was not properly funding education and needed to comply by 2018.
The 2017-18 budget is designed to properly fund K-12 education and comply with the court decision. Funding for higher education took a hit as lawmakers diverted funds for K-12 schools. This caused higher education institutions to return to an annual tuition increase, which was in place before the 2013 tuition freeze.