Tonight I heard a rumor that tuition will go up 25% next year at CWU.
I have spent the several hours since then trying to think of a good way to describe the chances of that happening. Pigs flying. Snowballs down south. Nothing original. I am left only with the facts.
- 14% – highest tuition increase on record for CWU
- 11.5% – tuition increase actually proposed by the state House
- 9.0 – tuition increase actually proposed by the governor
- 7.0 – current statutory limit on tuition increases
De facto control of tuition lies with the legislature. They assume a certain rate hike and then subtract the money it generates from our base of state support . Voila! That gives you a final budget.
Still, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that it is completely out of the realm of possibility that our board of trustees would entertain, let alone approve, an increase of 25% in tuition. Not gonna happen.
Where did the number come from? Here’s what I think.
Early in the legislative session policymakers were trying to size the problem and asked universities to tell them what would happen in the event of a cut in state support at the governor’s proposed level of 25%? What about the governor’s level plus another 15% cut? And another 15% cut? Then they asked universities to estimate what increase in tuition would be required to make up the cut. The answer, assuming enrollment of 9700: 20%, 23%, and, here it is, 25% respectively to make up for a state budget cut of 55%. Their effort was to demonstrate how ridiculously large the problem is, not to set public policy.
Everyone expects a deep cut, but I’ve not heard 55% referenced in anything other than a budget exercise. Everyone believes tuition will rise, but I do not believe either the legislature or our governing board would consider anything approaching a 25% annual tuition hike at CWU – ever.