Washington is lagging behind other states in awarding college degrees.
Among the 50 states, we rank 37th in awarding bachelor degrees and 39th in graduate degrees as a percentage of our young adult population. Compared to our key economic competitor states, the “global challenge states,” Washington is last in awarding graduate degrees and 7th out of 10 in bachelor degrees.
B.A. and Graduate Degrees Awarded Per 1,000 Population Ages 20-34, Global Challenge States
Meanwhile, the traditional college-age population has been growing faster than overall population growth, and more older adults are seeking job retraining. The state’s strategic plan calls for expanding the total number of degrees, certificates, and apprenticeships by 40% over two decades. But instead of expanding, the 2009-11 state budget cut higher education funding by $560 million.
Tuition and Fees at University of Washington and Community Colleges as a Percentage of State Median Household Annual Income, 1991 – 2010
A portion of those cuts is being made up by hefty tuition increases. The 2009-11 state budget raised tuition by 30% over two years at the state’s universities, and by 14% at community and technical colleges. Funding for financial aid rose too, but the number of students receiving state need grants increased by just 2% from 2008-09 to 2009-10, while the number of eligible but not served students increased by more than 50%.
These tuition increases are only the most recent in a thirty year history of shifting the cost of college education from the state to students and their families. As a result, tuition has soared relative to family income, pushing college increasingly out of reach for middle-income families.
How Initiative 1098 will help
If passed by voters, seventy percent of new net revenue from I-1098 – about $1.6 billion annually – will be dedicated to the state’s Education Legacy Trust Account, which provides dedicated funding for a number of educational improvements, including expanding access to higher education through funding for new enrollments and financial aid.
Want to read more, view citations, or see full size graphs? You can find the full brief (from which this post was excerpted) here: Why I-1098 is Right for Washington ».
Looking for more information about Initiative 1098? Visit the Economic Opportunity Institute website.