Editorial: Washington’s tuition stability good for students, GET program
The rebounding solvency of the state’s prepaid tuition plan is an indication of a better approach to higher education.
Seattle Times Editorial
WASHINGTON’S prepaid tuition plan rebounded into financial solvency on the wings of a rebounding stock market and a shift in legislative policy. That’s good news for the state: In 2013, the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program was underfunded by $631 million. Absent the rebound, Washington would’ve been on the hook.
But the real winners in the rebound are Washington college students and their families, whether they had GET accounts or not. The prepaid plan’s deficit had been compounded by a ruinous state policy of huge tuition increases.
Between 2008 and 2014, Washington’s average in-state tuition — the benchmark for GET payouts — increased $4,085 in inflation-adjusted dollars, at a rate second only to Arizona, according to a College Board report. In-state tuition at the University of Washington this year is 2.5 times higher than 2005, and 426 percent higher than 20 years ago.
That policy left Washington with tuition levels in the top third of states, and higher education appropriations in the bottom third.
The Legislature wisely reversed the gouge on college students and froze tuition increases for the past two years. More of the same, please.
Maintaining affordability for public colleges and universities must continue to be a priority — for the health of the GET program but, more importantly, for the sake of students who otherwise would emerge from higher education saddled with even higher loan debt.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, Robert J. Vickers, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).