WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

Cougar Chat, The state of higher education in Washington State

The State of Higher Education in Washington State

8909172342003_030300708great graduation photo of students all ages

On January 14, 2013, the Washington Legislature will begin its 105 day session. This session — commonly referred to as the ‘long’ session — is when the Legislature passes the state budget. This year, there will be robust discussion on how best to fund K-12 education, higher education, social services, and health care. We are launching an informational series we are calling “The State of Higher Education in Washington State“.  WSU Impact looks forward to sharing publicly available, documented data that will help inform you on issues important to higher education. We hope you find these resources useful as you hear more about the Legislature and budget debates in the next several months.

The Issue: For generations, public colleges and universities in the U.S — like Washington State University — have offered an affordable option for earning a college degree.  Now, cash-strapped states, including the state of Washington, have cut state funding for colleges and directing scarce resources to other state priorities.

The result has been shifting more of the cost of public higher education to students through tuition increases. In our state, the last ten years has seen a dramatic shift in the burden for funding public education from the state to the families and students (see graph below)(Office of Program Research, Washington State House of Representatives, 2012). WSU students know the opportunity costs associated with the rising costs of attending WSU — a decade ago, the state paid 76% of the costs for educating a WSU student. Now, the state pays 41% of these same costs.

A Heritage in Supporting Public Higher Education: Public higher education in the U.S. dates back to 1795 with the establishment of the University of North Carolina. In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Act, which gave land to the states to establish colleges “to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes.” The 108 so-called land-grant colleges still form the backbone of the U.S. public higher education system. 15 million students attend a public college or university in the United States. (US Department of Education, 2011)

Washington State University is our state’s public land-grant institution. WSU was established in 1890 by the Washington State Legislature; WSU has been educating students, providing quality research, and serving communities ever since. This year alone, WSU will educate approximately 27,680 students at four campuses and through WSU Online. WSU will also generate new research, advance learning and knowledge, and deliver exemplary public service through the WSU Extension programs serving 39 counties in our state.

On a worrisome note, data shows that the state of Washington has fallen to 50th in the nation in terms of state spending per student. WSU Impact is concerned about this fact (see graph below)(State Higher Education Finance, FY 2011). Will it be possible for concerned citizens, Legislators, and the Governor to change this arguably alarming statistic and bring back balance and reinvestment towards the costs and benefits of public higher education?

Let the Discussion Begin: WSU Impact wants its members to know that discussions are taking place in Olympia about the state of higher education in Washington State. We will be sharing pertinent information on almost a daily basis as we get closer to mid-January and the opening of the 2013-15 Legislature.

We will be regularly posting publicly available, documented data that will describe:

  • Benefits and importance of higher education in our nation and state;
  • Budget information, particularly in relation to the shifting of funding sources for public education
  • Tuition policy and financial aid
  • Efficiency performance and accountability
  • How Washington State compares nationally on higher education issues.

We look forward to your feedback on the helpfulness of this information. We also hope the data and documentation provides you with the factual data that will help inform your decisions if you voluntarily choose to use our WSU Impact advocacy tools in the months ahead.

We thank you in for joining WSU Impact to learn more about issues and support informed, engaged citizen advocacy. We appreciate you and your voice!




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