On March 27th, 2015, the Democratic Leadership in the Washington State House of Representatives released their proposed 2015-17 biennial budget (PSHB 1106). In it, roughly $140.4 million will go towards Higher Education in the state.
The budget, all told, has several benefits. For starters, it continues the tuition freeze for resident undergraduates, in addition to adding more funds, to ensure that students won’t have to pay even more to get a quality education than they currently have to. It will also give the state time to find a way to lower tuition rates for students. With regards to financial aid, some programs are still suspended (i.e. The Washington Scholars Program, Foster Care Endowment, etc.), but the budget does allow for more funding towards The Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program, or WSOS. By doing this, the state will continue to give funding to talented students interested in a STEM education is important in driving the economy of the future.
On the topic of STEM education, the budget also provides more funding for computer science and medical programs. It asks for $12.1 million to go to the Education Legacy Trust Account, with allotted funds for the University of Washington, Washington State University, and to establish engineering programs in Everett, Bremerton, and Bellevue College. It will also establish a medical school at Washington State University in Spokane, and “support the continued education of medical students enrolled in WWAMI programs.” This way, the state is ensuring that it will continue to provide a top-tier medical education to those that deserve it, and ensure that Washington and the Pacific Northwest continue to be a worldwide leader in the medical community for years to come.
Lastly, the budget includes funding for advising and support students. All too often undergraduates come to college without a clue as to what they want to major in, career prospects, or even just navigating through the college system. What the budget provides schools with is more advising and support services to help new and current students find their way, which in the long run benefits more than just the student.
With the current proposed budget plan, higher education in Washington State will continue to help improve the lives of students by allowing for more funding for scholarships, programs that will drive a 21st century economy, and give students a resource to traverse the complexities of college and adult life.
To read the one pager the House Democrats released please go here: http://housedemocrats.wa.gov/…/EL-and-Higher-Ed-FINAL.pdf!