WSU Regents Approve Tuition Increases for 2009-2011 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

WSU Regents Approve Tuition Increases for 2009-2011

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SPOKANE, Wash. - The Board of Regents of Washington State University approved, by a 6-1 vote, tuition increases of 14 percent for resident undergraduate students for each of the two years of the 2009-2011 biennium at the board's regularly scheduled meeting Friday (May 8) at the WSU Spokane campus.

The Washington Legislature built the tuition increases into the budget it approved for WSU last month. For the 2009-2010 academic year, the 14 percent increase will raise tuition by $870.

The regents also approved a range of tuition increases for other classifications of students. The complete listing of the tuition rates and increases is available at: http://www.wsunews.wsu.edu

Francois Forgette, chair of the board, said the tuition increase was a difficult, but necessary, step to prevent the university from being further damaged by budget reductions.

"In an economic recession, the last thing you should be cutting is higher education. It seems counterintuitive, but we are where we are and we have to play the hand that is dealt to us," said Forgette, who pointed out that, even after the tuition increase, the university will have to cut its budget by $54.16 million, or 10.38 percent, over the biennium.

Regent Scott Carson said it is important for the state's economic future to maintain the strength of higher education.

"All of us as business leaders have an obligation to express to our leaders in state government how important higher education is," said Carson, who called on the Cougar community to help raise funds for scholarships to augment financial aid.

The regents received a report that showed WSU's 2008-2009 tuition and fees placed the university $1,166 below the average of 22 peer institutions.

"This increase is significant by any measure, but when you look at it compared to our peer institutions, it is still a very good value," said Regent Ted Baseler.

Student Regent Derek En'Wezoh cast the only dissenting vote on the tuition increase. He said, based on the feedback he had received from fellow students, he could not support a tuition increase of that level. But he said he still appreciated the careful consideration that the board and administration had given to the budget and tuition issues.

"I know this decision comes hard. It is not just hard for me; it is hard for each one of you," En'Wezoh said.

Warwick M. Bayly, provost and executive vice president, said that the tuition increase should enable the university to continue to make classes available to allow students to graduate in four years. He said the cost for students, if they had to attend the university for an additional semester or two because classes weren't available, would be much higher than the costs resulting from this tuition increase.

John Fraire, vice president for enrollment management, said that increases in the federal Pell grant and expansion of the Hope Tax Credit would help offset the tuition increase for many students and their families. He said the university is strongly encouraging more students and families to apply for financial aid; sometimes students don't apply because they believe their family incomes are too high to qualify.

As part of the higher education budget, WSU saw its total state appropriation reduced by $112.3 million, or 21.5 percent, over the biennium. The university will receive nearly $16 million in one-time federal stimulus money to offset a portion of the cut. The tuition increase will provide an additional $42.4 million, resulting in a net overall reduction of $54.16 million, or 10.38 percent.

Last week, the university announced a preliminary budget plan that would eliminate about 370 vacant and filled positions and several academic programs, and take a number of other steps to address the shortfall. University administrators said adopting a lower tuition-rate increase than what was included in the legislative budget would force the university to reduce more jobs, eliminate more academic programs and make it more difficult for students to get the classes they would need to finish degrees in four years.

The board also approved a tuition rate of $750 per credit hour for the university's new on-line MBA program. Attaining an on-line MBA requires 39 credits.

The board approved a 2 percent increase, to $512, in annual services and activities fees for students. The board also approved the formulas for allocating those fees, which are decided upon by student-led committees on each of the campuses.

For students on the Pullman campus, the Student Recreation Center fee will increase by $16 per year to $289. Pullman students also approved a $20 increase in the transit fee, to $50 per year.

The regents elected new officers for the upcoming academic year. Michael Worthy of Vancouver will serve as chair of the board and Laura Jennings of Seattle as vice chair.

The board's next meeting will be held Sept. 4 in Pullman.

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