A proposed amendment to Senate Bill 5954, co-sponsored by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, would have reduced tuition by 5 percent for all students of public colleges and universities in Washington.
Today’s effort by Senate Democrats would have helped an additional 9,000 eligible students receive State Need Grants.
“This amendment is all about finding some sort of middle ground,” said Frockt. “Not only is this important for our community and technical college students, it’s important for our students attending independent colleges and universities. This bill ensures fairness for these students who otherwise would receive less financial aid under the current Senate budget proposal that eliminates $75 million for State Need Grant funding.”
Under Senate Bill 5954, students in community and technical colleges would only see a 2 percent reduction and only in the second year. They would get none in the first year, unlike their counterparts in the baccalaureates. In addition, tuition rates would be based on the average state wage, which may not be the most effective metric to use. The amendment offered by Frockt and Kohl-Welles would instead reduce current rates across the board by 5 percent for all students in public colleges and universities.
“Unlike the Republican tuition plan, this proposal lowers tuition now for all state schools including community and technical colleges,” said Kohl-Welles. “Our community college and technical college students are often forgotten when we discuss tuition reduction. These students are oftentimes the ones who need financial help the most when pursuing higher education. Let’s get this right and make sure all of our citizens seeking higher education can afford it, not just the ones who choose to attend a four-year university.”
The amendment also called for a study by Washington State Institute for Public Policy of eliminating tuition at Washington two-year institutions. Other states have experimented with this idea and President Obama unveiled a proposal in January that would split the cost between the federal government and states. This amendment does not include a specific plan but asks for a study of the issue.