Report: Rebounding Economy is Leaving Higher Ed Funding Behind

Public higher education funding was among the hardest when lawmakers went looking for ways to shore up their recession budget crises. The economy is improving nationwide, yet higher education budgets remain in a pre-recession hole in 47 states, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities new report.

Washington State’s public institutions faced dramatic cuts beginning in 2008; almost 50 percent of funding was slashed at the peak of the recession. In Washington — like the rest of the US — universities were forced to implement annual tuition hikes in order to backfill drastic losses in state funding.  The average cost of tuition in Washington has shot up almost 60% since 2008, according to the report.

Lawmakers froze tuition in Washington during the last two-year biennium – a much-needed respite for Washington residents. Lawmakers even prioritized a small reinvestment in our institutions. Yet, Washington is still down nearly 30%, or $2,589, in per-student funding, according to the Washington Post.

Lawmakers have been in Olympia since January trying to hammer out the details of a new two-year budget. Tuition will be among the many competing budgetary demands negotiated in the final deal.

UW Impact and our alumni advocates continue to advocate for state reinvestment, but it is a long road ahead. Undoing the damage caused by the recession is critical to the financial future of our students, families and state economy.

Read the full CPBB report here.