In the final days of the 2015 legislative session, Senate budget negotiators fought to include working-family tax relief in the form of a nationally unprecedented college-tuition reduction. Today the governor signed Senate Bill 5954, known as the College Affordability Program, which cuts tuition at state-run colleges and universities by up to 20 percent and caps tuition growth based on a percentage of the state’s median wage. The legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, who has worked to make college more affordable for all Washington students.
“This is a historic moment for families and students in our state,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “Washington is the only state in the country to support working families with a college tuition reduction. In addition, this is the first tuition reduction in state history. Over the past decade tuition at our colleges and universities have skyrocketed, limiting college access and saddling graduates with debt. I’m hopeful that we’ve been able to turn the tide on higher-education funding with this policy and make students a priority again.”
Washington college students currently graduate with an average of over $20,000 in student debt; tuition at the state’s flagship institution, the University of Washington in Seattle, has nearly doubled in the last decade.
“The lack of investment in Washington’s higher-education system has been detrimental to our state’s economy and damaging to family budgets struggling to cover ever-increasing tuition,” said Bailey. “Our state has been stuck in a cycle of endless financial aid increases to deal with endless tuition increases. As we’ve seen, that is not sustainable. We are making college affordability a reality for everyone. As many have said, the best form of financial aid is low tuition.”
Students will begin saving on college tuition this fall with a 5 percent reduction this year with additional savings in the 2016-17 school year