OLYMPIA – The “Families First” budget proposed yesterday by House Democrats in Olympia includes two big pieces of good news for families trying to afford college: a tuition freeze and a major financial aid investment.
“We want everyone in this state to have a chance to go to college – whether that’s a short-term welding certificate at Olympic College or a bachelor’s degree from the computer science department at the University of Washington,” said Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island). “This budget would freeze tuition for the next two years – marking an unprecedented six straight years where tuition has been frozen or cut. That’s the longest investment in affordable college tuition in our state’s history.”
Included in the budget’s $194 million investment in the state’s higher education system:
- A tuition freeze for all college students with $56 million to Washington’s colleges to replace lost tuition revenue..
- An investment of $49 million in the State Need Grant program, which gives 6000 additional students the ability to afford college..
- A significant investment in computer science education and rural primary care and dentistry education to help Washington’s employers make sure they can hire Washington students and to provide more access to health care in rural areas.
In contrast, the Senate Republican budget raises tuition across the board and makes no further investment in the State Need Grant, leaving 23,500 eligible low-income students without any state aid in paying for college.
“We know that a college degree — or a short-term credential in a skilled trade – is one of the best paths for people to get a decent job and support their families,” Hansen said. “We all believe in hard work, strong families, and a fair shot in life, and this budget supports those priorities by making college more affordable.”