UW Releases Official 2014 Legislative Agenda

The UW brings an agenda to Olympia that aims to hold steady on the progress made in last year’s initial state reinvestment, but acknowledges the still-limited funds available to the Legislature. The reality of the state’s economic situation is much more optimistic than in years past, but there are high expectations and competing priorities for the limited amount of new money the state has – particularly in a time of continued austerity.

Last year’s modest state reinvestment in higher education allowed for the first resident undergraduate tuition freeze since 1986 (thanks in part to YOUR advocacy!). The UW is committed to a continued freeze, and its first legislative priority is to ensure that the state will hold up its end, and maintain zero reductions in state funding.

Full funding of the State Need Grant is the UW’s second legislative priority, and it’s a priority we’ve heard echoed by others, including the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC). The SNG helps offset higher education costs for Washington’s neediest students. The program historically served all qualifying students, but the recession created a funding gap starting in 2009. Increasing need has outstripped available funding, and left over 32,000 eligible students unserved last year.

About 10% of those 32,000 students come from the UW, and the University has made up the difference locally by providing the cost of tuition and fees to those students through the Husky Promise. The financial security of the Husky Promise will be compromised if the UW is forced to continue back-filling the SNG funding gap.

The cost to cover unserved SNG students is estimated between $28-$32 million, according to the Office of Student Financial Aid. The WSAC projected the state would need to funnel $135 million per year to fund all unserved students statewide (assuming no tuition increases or policy changes.)

The SNG is critical to providing access to quality, affordable degrees for many populations of students. Full state funding of the SNG is critical to the success of the Husky Promise program, and it would free up local money to be used in a number of ways, such as:

  • Financial aid for non-SNG students
  • Means to curb future tuition increases
  • A reinvestment into the UW

The third legislative priority is directed at three strategic investments in the kind of innovative UW research that has high-impact outcomes on the state’s economy.

  • Next Generation Medicine: Institute for Protein Design
  • Next Generation Health Care: Interprofessional Education Initiative
  • Next Generation STEM Education: Expansion and Facility Roadmap

The Office of External Affairs has the full legislative agenda available, here.