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The Legislature has improved college affordability by reducing tuition and slightly increasing State Need Grant service levels.[1] However, cost of attendance remains a barrier for many current and prospective students.[2]

Financial aid applications have increased 50 percent since the Great Recession, while enrollments in public institutions have increased only seven percent.[3] Washington’s State Need Grant program still lacks the funding necessary to support eligible students, leaving over 20,000 unserved each year. While student-debt levels are lower than the national average, Washington bachelor’s degree graduates who borrow still carry an average debt burden of over $24,000.[4]

In addition to stemming the rise of tuition and providing ample funding for institutions, sufficient state financial aid is essential to any affordability strategy. Strengthening both State Need Grant and the College Bound Scholarship program can help close the opportunity gap in K-12 and boost college-going rates, which continue to lag behind other states’.[5]

Funding Dashboards

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Washington Higher Education Expenditures

State Funds to Higher Education in Unadjusted Dollars, Historical Expenditures and Budgeted for FY18 and FY19 

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Historical Tuition Revenues, Enrollments, & Operating Funds from the Washington LEAP Committee (December 2017). Next update: Summer 2018.

Student Share of Higher Education Cost

Due to large state-funding cuts from 2009 to 2013, tuition rates at the public institutions rose sharply, resulting in a shift in who pays for instructional costs. Students are covering the majority of the cost at public four-year colleges, far above the pre-recession share. However, more recent reinvestments and tuition reductions have improved affordability in the public institutions.

Tuition as a Percentage of Total State Funding and Tuition Revenue

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Historical Tuition Revenues, Enrollments, & Operating Funds from the Washington LEAP Committee (December 2017). Next update: Summer 2018.

State Funding and Tuition Expenditures per Actual FTE

State Funds to Higher Education and Tuition Expenditures in Unadjusted Dollars

Source: WSAC staff analysis of Historical Tuition Revenues, Enrollments, & Operating Funds from the Washington LEAP Committee (December 2017). Next update: Summer 2018.

Note: "Expenditures" are from the state tuition fund 149 "Inst of HI ED Operating Fees" per https://www.ofm.wa.gov/accounting/fund/detail/149 and http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28B.15.031

 

Notes

[1] The improving economy has also contributed to lower cohort default rates on student loans in this time period for public and nonprofit institutions. Default rates at nonprofit four-year schools are now below four percent, per WSAC staff analysis of IPEDS data.

[2] Washington Student Achievement Council staff analysis of Unit Record Report data, 2013-14 - 2015-16 (Publication). Olympia, WA: Washington Student Achievement Council.

[3] Washington Student Achievement Council staff analysis of Budget Driver Reports, 2007-08 through 2014-15 (Publication). Olympia, WA: Office of Financial Management; and analysis of FAFSA record data. Washington D.C.: US Department of Education.

[4] Student Debt and the Class of 2016, (Publication). Washington DC: The Institute for College Access and Success, fall 2017, retrieved 11/17 from https://ticas.org/sites/default/files/pub_files/student_debt_and_the_class_of_2016_nr.pdf

[5] NCHEMS analysis of IPEDS data shows Washington well behind national averages. Retrieved from http://www.higheredinfo.org/dbrowser/index.php?measure=32 on 11/22/17

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