Thursday, May 12, 2011

Policy Center chair discusses impacts of higher ed budget cuts

An op-ed piece in today’s Seattle Times discusses the effects of state budget cuts on higher education access and program quality in Washington. 
The article comes two days after the Legislature completed work on E2SHB 1795, a comprehensive bill granting higher education institutions authority to substantially increase resident undergraduate tuition to help offset further anticipated reductions in state support.
“Some argue that we’ll just increase financial aid to make sure anyone can afford to go to college in Washington.  That’s a pipe dream,” says Aaron Katz, Chair of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center and a lecturer in the University of Washington Departments of Health Services and Global Health.
Although E2SHB 1795 requires institutions to provide additional financial aid to some low- and middle-income students under some circumstances, the Katz article points out that nearly 22,000 financially eligible students did not receive State Need Grants in 2009-10 because demand exceeded available resources. 
The article references a recent Budget & Policy Center Report, which argues the state should maintain its longstanding commitment to cover the greater share of instruction costs at public colleges and universities. Not only are substantial tuition increases costing students more for each year they attend, additional reductions in appropriations will increase the time required to complete a degree, adding even more to a student’s overall college expenses, the report predicts.
The Washington State Budget & Policy Center was founded in 2005 as an “independent, progressive policy organization that works to create a just and prosperous Washington State through sound research.” It received initial funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

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