Monday, February 22, 2010

Upsetting Tuition Tradition

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Two weeks ago, student protesters roused themselves at local public universities to decry tuition prices and state budget cuts. Their ire was directed at Olympia. After all, at Washington public universities, it’s the state, not the individual university, that sets public tuitions.

But a bill in Olympia has just passed the state Senate giving three state universities — Washington State, Western Washington and University of Washington — the power to set their own tuition (though they’re limited to a 14 percent yearly increase).

Notice anybody missing from that list? That’s right, Eastern Washington University.

Part of the reason for the omission, bill sponsor Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) explains, is that EWU didn’t ask to be involved. The change is a six-year experiment, and the big agitators for the bill were the three included in that experiment.

Dave Meany, spokesman for Eastern Washington University, says that having the power to set tuition wouldn’t solve Eastern’s major financial problems. Many Eastern students need more financial aid, not higher tuition.

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