Private College Students in WA May Lose Financial Aid If Proposed Budget Cuts Pass
Posted By Abby Perkins on June 15, 2015 at 2:22 pm
In a budget proposed by Washington state Senate Republicans, students who attend public universities in Washington state could see a 25 percent tuition reduction. However, to pay for this cut, the bill recommends slashing the amount of financial aid for students who attend private colleges and universities.
Balancing the budget
State lawmakers are late in delivering a budget, and students across the state are in a holding pattern as they wait for an agreement. Students enrolled in summer sessions are faced with financial aid packages that have been offered, but not guaranteed to be funded. Some are even choosing to skip the summer session without a locked-in financial aid package, because they cannot afford to front the money without a guaranteed reimbursement on the way.
The budget holdup is due to a number of sticking points, including the proposed financial aid changes. Currently, students can apply for aid through the state’s Need Grant Program. The maximum amount currently awarded to students of private, four-year universities is $8,517. That number is where state Republicans want to find the cash to lower tuition rates for public colleges.
Broad reach across students
The Independent Colleges of Washington is a collective that represents ten private nonprofit colleges in Washington State. According to their website, these ten colleges award one out of every five undergraduate degrees statewide. Cutting funding to these institutions could have a major impact on college graduation rates, as low-income students may not be able to cover the gap.
The proposed budget also suggests a cut to financial aid for public school students, but includes an overall reduction in tuition for public colleges and universities. The net result would be less spending overall for public school students, although state Democrats think that paying for a tuition reduction by cutting aid to private schools is unfair.
An uncertain future
The governor has called a special 30-day session for lawmakers to deliver a budget, and state shutdowns are on the horizon if the stalemate continues into July. State Democrats proposed a tuition freeze for public university students, so from either side of the aisle, students will probably not see major changes to their own bottom lines this year.
For private school students, it remains to be seen what the outcome will be. The only certainty right now is that lawmakers are behind schedule, and for students who are encouraged to begin filing for fall financial aid as soon as January 1, the uncertainty is surely unsettling.