Baumgartner remains optimistic about ability to keep statewide tuition low


By Jane Martin, Editor-in-Chief


Sen. Michael Baumgartner, who visited campus Oct. 7, stopped by the EWU blood drive in the PUB after addressing a rhetorical theory and criticism class.

Baumgartner spoke with optimism about the statewide tuition freeze and said that he hoped Washington universities would be able to avoid further tuition increases for next year as well.

“We budgeted in a tuition freeze for this year … with an expectation that the universities will hold tuition constant for next year as well … WSU and one other institution have announced that there won’t be a tuition increase next year,” Baumgartner said. “I don’t know if Eastern has announced that yet, so technically they could [raise tuition], but I think the goal is that tuition will be frozen for two years.”

According to Dave Meany, media relations director, no final decisions have been made regarding tuition rates for next year.

“It depends on our budget situation next year,” he said.

“[President Arévalo] has always tried to keep tuition rates as low as possible,” Meany said.

He added that Arévalo was one of the university presidents who came out early in support of the current tuition freeze.

According to Baumgartner, Tier 1 research universities, University of Washington and Washington State University, also received STEM research funding, “and [Western Washington University] got a small amount as well.”

“Eastern has a tremendous engineering department and that’s something that we want to get even more state support for. … It was politically very challenging to hold tuition [increases] to zero. It was something that in particular the University of Washington fought very strongly, and so in the final negotiations, … one of the aspects that helped get tuition to zero for students across the state was this increase in STEM funding, and it’s something that will be ideally expanding to other institutions,” Baumgartner said.

“To start with, baseline funding we increased by 12 percent, so [EWU] did see dramatic increase in state support in contrast to what has happened in terms of cuts over the previous few years. I certainly hope we can get more support for those degrees in the future.”

“Politics is a lot like making sausage and that was part of the sausage-making process at the end of the session,” Baumgartner said.