It wasn’t the best news for students, but when lawmakers allowed University of Washington Regents to raise tuition by 14 percent last year, it helped offset some of the staggering cuts imposed on the university by the state budget.
While school officials have been publicly advocating for greater tuition-setting flexibility, especially in the wake of those cuts, they’re not sure a billprefiled earlier this week by Sen. Ken Jacobsen, which would grant UW Regents tuition-setting authority, is the right fix.
“As long as I’ve known Ken, he’s introduced a similar bill every year and we’ve always been supportive of the concept,” said UW lobbyist Randy Hodgins. “The problem is that there haven’t been enough of his colleagues to support it.”
Lawmakers aren’t keen on giving the UW too much control, Hodgins says, particularly because of the California Board of Regents‘ decision to approve a 32 percent tuition hike last November. “That’s the fear on a lot of legislators’ part,” Hodgins said.
In a phone interview Friday, Jacobsen said the outcome could be different this time: “We’re in such dire financial straits.” He supports coupling high tuition with high financial aid and laying the burden of financial aid on the state.
Meanwhile, UW officials have been circulating a draft of a different proposal among key legislators, which they hope will secure limited tuition-setting authority for UW resident undergraduate tuition, Hodgins said. UW Regents already have authority over graduate, professional and non-resident students’ tuition.
“They don’t want to provide that much leeway to the regents of the universities, but I think there’s some middle ground there,” Hodgins said. “There are some levels of authority they’d be willing to delegate.”
UW undergrads will pay about $7,700 for in-state tuition this year. An additional 14 percent increase is currently slated for the 2010-2011 academic year.