Potential tuition increase of up to 10 percent in next two years, even more for international students

By Linsey Garrison, Staff Writer



Washington state colleges and universities are objecting to budget proposals put forward by the state legislature that could potentially increase tuition by up to 10 percent in the next two years.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, also expressed disappointment with House Democrats plans to increase tuition.

“The House Democrat plan is yet another budget proposal [making] it more expensive to go to college,” Baumgartner said. “Stacking more tuition increases on top of a decade of tuition increases is a dangerous game to play, and the losers, again, are college students.”

The legislature did not come to an agreement on the state budget by the time the 2013 regular legislative session adjourned on April 28. A special session was scheduled to begin on May 13.

In a petition addressed to Gov. Jay Inslee and members of the Washington state Legislature, the Washington Student Association and a coalition of other community groups asked that a budget be adopted that increases access, affordability and promotes diversity at Washington universities.

“We’re deeply concerned that the revenue sources assumed in the Senate Budget, which unfairly target a significant portion of our student population, will harm rather than help these objectives,” the petition read. “We are disappointed to see that the House has allowed for a 10 percent tuition increase over the next two years, with no restrictions to stop our universities and colleges from enacting even greater tuition hikes on the backs of students and families in Washington state.”

On April 25, the petition was delivered to Sen. Ed Murray and other legislators throughout the day.

“Every budget proposal we have seen put students between a rock and a hard place. Our state can do far better than cuts and tuition hikes on our backs. This petition proves that over 2,000 people agree,” said Angie Weiss, University of Washington Liaison for the Washington Student Association and the Associated Students of the University of Washington Director of Government Relations.

The petition gained over 2,300 signatures in just over a week, with over 900 of the signatures coming from EWU.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Eastern students do not agree with funding our higher education system on the backs of students, and low tuition costs for all students should be a priority,” said E.B. Vodde, EWU legislative liaison.

Tuition could also potentially increase by another 20 percent for international students at Washington universities if the Senate decides to move forward with a bill proposed by Sen. Rodney Tom.

The bill would require university governing boards to include a 20 percent surcharge on all tuition fees for nonresident students who hold lawful nonimmigrant status. Some of the revenue would be used to fund Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition program.

Out-of-state and international students pay the same tuition at Washington colleges and universities, which, at EWU, is $10,000 more than what in-state students pay.

University of Washington lobbyist Margaret Shepherd testified before the Senate Ways and Means committee in April that the added fee could lead to a substantial decrease in international students choosing to enroll at colleges in Washington.

“The reality of this is, is international students paying for and not receiving any benefit off of their direct tuition,” said Shepherd. “Secondly, it is at a rate that we believe will price these students out of the market, which means that the revenue [assumed] in this budget will not be there because these students will not be able to attend [University of Washington] and perhaps our other [Washington] institutions.”