Washington's consistent under-funding of its state colleges and
universities will mean at least 4,300 fewer slots for new students this
fall, and a new report predicts that those who are able to enroll will
be mostly from higher-income families. The Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI)
says public funding for state schools is at a 30-year low, and half of
the financial aid being offered to students is in the form of loans.
Sandra Schroeder, president of AFT Washington
college graduates tend to make more in the job market than those
without degrees, but they face years of debt as they build careers and
"The loans have created a terrible burden on students, whether they're
going to two-year colleges or to universities. And the fact that they
come out with high loan indebtedness puts off their buying power for
quite a long time. That helps depress the economy."
The EOI report says the state formerly covered about 75 percent of
undergraduate instruction costs. Today, it's only 38 percent at the
universities, and 58 percent at community colleges. Students and
parents make up the rest with increased tuition and fees.
And what do they get for their money? Schroeder says schools have
already cut their budgets to the bone. Lower-paid part-timers are
teaching more than half of college classes, and because of the
Legislature's most recent 14 percent cuts, she expects the job losses
"What you are going to see is fewer librarians and fewer counselors and
fewer tutors. So, the current cuts - even though they were partially,
not fully, offset by tuition increases - are going to mean that
students are paying more, but getting less-good quality."
report says higher education was falling behind
in Washington even before the recession. It blames a shrinking state
tax base that hits middle-class and poor families harder than rich
ones, as a percentage of their income.
View the report "Losing By Degrees" at www.eoionline.org