Tuition may rise 11 percent despite a reduction in the temporary cuts to the budget.
Tuition could go up 11 percent next year as a result of the state legislature’s two rounds of budget cuts – temporary and permanent – to higher education.
Though the temporary cuts were reduced from $11.2 million to $7.48 million in a recent special legislative session, the WSU administration is still dealing with the additional $13.5 million cut from the university’s permanent budget, President Elson S. Floyd said in a Dec. 16 “Perspectives” blogpost. The reduction plan for that cut went into into effect Jan. 1. “In light of that change, Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly and I will continue to work with deans, chancellors and vice presidents to modify plans to address the temporary cut for the current fiscal year,” Floyd said.
Though the cuts are high, the current temporary and permanent plans have no reductions to filled faculty positions, executive director of planning and budget Joan King said.
The president and provost are reviewing the temporary plans proposed by the vice presidents, chancellors and deans, she said. King said she expects revised amounts for the one-time budget reduction to be available this week. Samuel Shaddox, student member on the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB), said the reduction in the temporary cuts partly stems from an increasing realization of the importance of higher education among lawmakers.
“Higher education can’t really be cut that much more,” he said.
King said while a smaller budget reduction for the current year is easier to manage, it is still difficult for colleges and departments to make changes to meet both the permanent and the temporary reductions with only half of the fiscal year left.
There were no programs identified for elimination, so the smaller temporary reduction allows colleges and departments more flexibility in addressing the target cuts, she said.
King said tuition increases are unknown at this point. She said both the House and the Senate will propose their budgets before a final, approved budget is available for the coming biennium. “But since the state revenue picture is not predicted to improve, it is very likely that all proposed budgets will include tuition increases at some level,” King said.
Any increase in tuition will affect WSU’s accessibility and acceptance rates, she said. It will also affect the state’s support of programs, such as the State Need Grant (SNG).
“While the governor’s recommended biennial budget supports the SNG at the current level, it also recommends an increase in all tuition categories of 11 percent,” she said. “So there will be greater need for SNG funding, but the available pool will be the same size.”
King said she expects the trend in cuts to continue.
“As long as our state economy continues to languish, I don’t see much hope that the state funding for higher education will improve,” she said.