Bailey, Braun propose program to make college affordable

Today Sen. Barbara Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and Sen. John Braun, deputy Senate majority leader, announced a sensible new approach for making college affordable. Senate Bill 5954, the College Affordability Program, would reduce tuition by approximately 30 percent at the University of Washington and Washington State University, the state’s public-research institutions.

By linking resident-undergraduate tuition to a percentage of the state’s average wage, depending on the type of institution, SB 5954 would continue the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus’ effort to keep college within reach of middle-class students and families. Tuition at the state’s public two- and four-year colleges was frozen for 2013-14 and 2014-15 thanks to the MCC’s budget priorities.

“College has become increasingly unaffordable for our students,” said Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. “I have been working to find a way to address the issue of skyrocketing tuition that has acted like a tax on our middle-class families and students. The College Affordability Program is a step in the right direction to begin addressing this issue.”

The College Affordability Program takes a comprehensive approach to the complexity of higher-education funding by making up for lost tuition revenue, making resident students a priority and keeping institutions’ funding levels consistent.

“Higher education is vital to our state’s economic health,” said Braun, R-Centralia. “Without affordable college options we are seeing increased student debt that will have ripple effects throughout the economy. Students are delaying major life events like starting a family or buying a home. This bill makes sense for all students and invests in higher education after years of neglect.”