State support: Keeping college affordable

After years of declining state support for higher education, the state legislature has reversed course and begun to reinvest in higher education in Washington.

For example, the legislature reduced the cost of tuition by 15-20 percent a few years ago—making Washington the only state in the nation at the time to lower tuition at public universities and colleges. The decision came after years of lobbying by college leaders and students, who argued that the best form of financial aid was lower tuition.

This year, WSU and the University of Washington are teaming up on a joint public-awareness campaign to remind Washingtonians that higher education is affordable and achievable.

Statistics show student loan debts in the state of Washington are not as large as many might think. Nearly half (48 percent) of the Class of 2017 that graduated from a Washington baccalaureate-granting institution left with no student loan debt, and Washington ranks second in the nation in need-based grant aid per undergrad student (behind New Jersey by $6 per student).

Of those who did graduate with debt across the state, it was less than $24,000, on average, and the three‑year student-loan default rate for graduates from Washington’s four‑year universities is 4.7 percent, compared to the national average of 11.5 percent.