Yesterday (March 31, 2015), the Washington State Senate announced its proposed budget for the 2015-17 biennium and in its plan the Senate calls for reducing tuition at Washington’s institutions of higher education.
It is important that our customers know that we have been working closely with the State Actuary, legislators and their staff and our agency policy team for several months now to discuss the possibility of zero tuition growth or even the possibility of lower tuition as proposed by the Senate budget.
Our first and foremost priority is the best interests of our customers. We want to ensure that our customers maintain the current dollar value of their accounts and that they have the opportunity for their investment to continue to grow over time. With that said, we also need to ensure that any changes we make to the program are fiscally responsible and keep the funded status or solvency of the program strong and viable.
In the case of the proposed Senate budget, we are currently looking at what the impacts would be if we lowered our price and provided additional units to our customers based on a number of potential formulas.
Since legislation and the budgets are still undergoing discussions and negotiations at this point, it is really difficult to provide specifics. Our goal over the next several weeks is to work with the legislature, the GET Committee and the State Actuary to develop financially sound models to evaluate so that the best possible solution can be implemented in a timely manner once a budget proposal and tuition setting policy is agreed upon by our state leaders.
In both of the higher education budget scenarios that have been proposed, we realize our business model may need to be adjusted; however, our mission of making college more affordable and accessible for Washington families does not change and we are fully committed to that goal. As more information and details become available we will be sure to share them with you.