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Students cite financial constraints as the primary deterrent to program completion.[1] While some students may have the resources to enroll and stay in school, many others do not. Unable to afford higher education, these students may postpone enrollment, take fewer classes, or suspend their coursework altogether.

The lack of affordable pathways to completion hurts Washington families, dampens our economy, and puts the statewide educational attainment goals out of reach. Adequately funding institutions, and ensuring state financial aid programs can serve all eligible students, represent key solutions to the affordability problem.

Postsecondary Tuition and Financial Aid Proportions Dashboards

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Resident Undergraduate Tuition

Resident undergraduate tuition rates for the public institutions grew dramatically from 2009-2013 when state funding was cut.  Tuition rates were frozen from 2014-2016, and then reduced by the College Affordability Program in 2016-17 as state funding to the institutions increased.

Resident Undergraduate Tuition Rates at Public Institutions in Washington

Source: WSAC staff analysis of published tuition and S&A fees for undergraduate resident students at Washington public institutions (February 2019). Next update: Fall 2019.

Financial Aid Award Proportions

To stay in school, students combine financial aid and scholarships with work, loans, and other resources to manage educational expense. The components of student aid packages differ by student income levels.  

Portion of Financial Aid for Full-Time, Full Year, Resident Undergraduates with Need, by MFI

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Unit Record Report data (October 2017). Next update: Summer 2019.

Note: Data from WSAC's Unit Record Report database only includes students at institutions participating in Washington state student financial aid (SFA) programs AND receiving either need-based financial aid OR non-need-based Federal Direct Unsubsidized, Parent PLUS, or Grad PLUS Loans. Students not applying for financial aid, receiving only non-need-based aid (such as merit aid), or enrolled at non-participating institutions are not included in URR data. 

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Focus on State Student Financial Aid Programs

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Location of Students Receiving State Financial Aid

Location of Student Financial Aid Recipients Based on Reported Permanent Home Address

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Student Borrowing and Unmet Financial Need

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Annual Borrowing

State aid is an important tool to reduce debt burdens, and it is likely that funding for financial aid programs have helped reduce the average debt of Washington students.  

Average Annual Loan Amounts and Number of Borrowers for Washington Residents with Financial Need

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Final Reconciled Unit Record Report (February 2018). Next update: Summer 2019.

Annual Borrowing By Dependency Status

Borrowing amounts are generally higher for independent students in most sectors, and have remained stable over the past three years.  Note that direct federal loan programs have caps on the amount students may borrow each year, and caps on total lifetime borrowing. 

Annual Loan Borrowing of Washington Residents

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Final Reconciled Unit Record Report data (February 2018). Next update: Summer 2019.

Note: Data from WSAC's Unit Record Report database only includes students at institutions participating in Washington state student financial aid (SFA) programs AND receiving either need-based financial aid OR non-need-based Federal Direct Unsubsidized, Parent PLUS, or Grad PLUS Loans. Students not applying for financial aid, receiving only non-need-based aid (such as merit aid), or enrolled at non-participating institutions are not included in URR data. 

Average Unmet Need

Average Unmet Need for Full-Time, Full Year, Resident Undergraduates by MFI and Sector 

Unmet need = need amount minus total financial aid award excluding loans and work.

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Final Reconciled Unit Record Report data (October 2017). Next update: Summer 2019.

Note: Data from WSAC's Unit Record Report database only includes students at institutions participating in Washington state student financial aid (SFA) programs AND receiving either need-based financial aid OR non-need-based Federal Direct Unsubsidized, Parent PLUS, or Grad PLUS Loans. Students not applying for financial aid, receiving only non-need-based aid (such as merit aid), or enrolled at non-participating institutions are not included in URR data. 

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