Housing rates increase for students at EWU


Gerald Maib for The Easterner

By Colette-Janae Buck, Copy Editor

EWU students who live off campus should be feeling their budgets loosen up as the cost of undergraduate tuition has dropped by fifteen percent for the 2016-17 academic school year. For students living on campus, lowered tuition was met with higher housing costs.

Bruce DeFrates, EWU director for financial aid and scholarships, said the tuition decrease totaled $942, bringing the yearly cost of tuition from approximately $7,053 down to $6,111.

Senate Bill 5954 (SB-5954), which was passed and enacted in July 2015, mandated a statewide decrease in public university tuition and forced tuition rates in all regional universities down by a total of 20 percent in two years; tuition was dropped by five percent for the 2015-16 academic year and by 15 percent for the 2016-17 school year.

Room and board expenditures at EWU have increased by 6.9 percent since the previous academic year, DeFrates said, offsetting the drop in tuition and costing students who live on campus $678 more than last school year.

“You get tuition coming down and housing coming up, so it kind of offset it a bit in terms of the overall cost, but for students who are living at home or are paying on their own, the decrease was a definite benefit,” said DeFrates. “For those living on campus, it was more of a wash because of the housing increase.”

The rising cost of room and board still made little to no difference in the calculated cost of attendance for the 2016-17 school year, DeFrates said. The projected cost of attendance for an in-state student who lives on campus dropped from $22,596 in the 2015-16 school year to $22,122 for the current school year, according to projections provided by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Financial aid was another area where the state mandated tuition-drop made a slight impact.

Federal financial aid, grants and loans provided to students through the federal government remained relatively stable, but DeFrates said state aid funds, such as the State Need Grant, did see a decrease.

“Where it did affect was state aid, because that is tied directly to tuition rates at the various Washington state schools,” said DeFrates. “That went down $923, but it was still a little bit of a net-gain, because tuition went down $942. Students still came out a little bit better with that.”

Full tuition waivers would also see a decrease in availability due to the tuition decreases, but DeFrates said EWU does not offer many waivers to begin with. The availability of the waivers has remained relatively stable.

For students who receive the full financial aid package, the drop in tuition had little to no effect on how they pay for college. For students who take out loans or pay out of pocket, this tuition decrease helps alleviate accumulated debt.

EWU junior Elizabeth Alonso said she pays her tuition through loans and found the tuition drop to be exciting and beneficial.  

“I saw the [announcement] over the summer and I was super excited,” said Alonso. “I kinda rubbed it in my sister’s faces because they both graduated from here with lots of loans.”

Alonso also said having the lowered tuition is a huge relief on the amount of loans she has to take out in order to attend school.

Looking ahead, DeFrates said tuition rates for Washington state universities are predicted to stay modestly regulated. With the implementation of SB-5954, the amount in which state-funded universities and colleges raise and lower their tuition is now regulated.

According to SB-5954, section 5c, line 16, “Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, full-time tuition operating fees for resident undergraduates … may increase by no more than the average annual percentage growth 19 rate in the median hourly wage for Washington for the previous fourteen years as the wage is determined by the federal bureau of 21 labor statistics.”

DeFrates said he expected tuition rates for the 2017-18 school year will be approximately 2.1 percent more than this academic year’s rates, still providing relief to college students all over the state.