It is an astounding, attention-getting move. No other state has had the courage to try it. It is a pay hike for the middle class, future debt relief for students and a significant boost for accessibility to higher education. The Washington Legislature has voted to cut tuition at public universities by 15-20 percent by 2016. Community college tuition will be cut 5 percent.
Undergraduate tuition at the University of Washington and Washington State University will fall by 15 percent. That’s a $1,600-a-year savings for a typical UW student, no small bonus for them or their parents. Tuition at Central, Eastern and Western Washington universities and Evergreen State will be cut 20 percent. For a student at Central, for instance, that’s a $1,300 annual savings. Future tuition hikes will be limited to the growth in the state’s median income.
This is a significant turnaround after a decade that saw tuition double and student debt rise to an average $25,000 a head. Moreover, the cuts are covered by a $200 million boost in state support for higher education, funded in part by closing tax loopholes. “We’re thrilled,” WSU Director of State Relations Chris Mulick told The Seattle Times.
So are we.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Managing Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.