Report: State tuition among fastest growing

SEATTLE — A national report shows tuition at Washington’s public universities increased more during the recession than in any state except Arizona, but still doesn’t approach the highest public university tuition in the nation.

According to the College Board’s report on “Trends in College Pricing,” from 2008 to 2014, Washington’s average in-state tuition increased by $4,085 in inflation-adjusted dollars. During the same time, Arizona’s tuition increased by $4,493. The national average increased by $1,885 during that time.

In 2013-14, the highest published in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions was in New Hampshire, where tuition and fees average $14,665. The lowest was $4,404 in Wyoming.

Average tuition at Washington’s six, four-year public colleges and universities was $10,811 this year.

While Washington now ranks in the top third of average public college tuition, it has fallen to the bottom third of state appropriations for higher education, per full-time equivalent student.

The Washington Legislature gave universities permission to raise tuition by double digit rates during the recession to make up for double-digit cuts in state appropriations for higher education.

From 2008 to 2013, tuition and fees in Washington state rose 37 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars, while state dollars going to higher education were cut by nearly 28 percent.

Students and parents will catch up a little this year and next after Washington lawmakers restored some money to the higher education budget and froze tuition for two school years.

According to the College Board, only 12 percent of college students didn’t see their tuition go up this school year. The average increase across the nation was about 3 percent, which was the smallest jump in more than 30 years.

“That doesn’t mean that college is suddenly more affordable, but it does mean that the rapid growth of recent years did not represent a ‘new normal’ for annual price increases,” the report said in explaining recent tuition trends.

State support for higher education in Washington remains below pre-recession levels by about $2,500 per student, in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the report.

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