State Colleges Propose Tuition Freeze If Legislature Raises Fund - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

State Colleges Propose Tuition Freeze If Legislature Raises Funding

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RICHLAND, Wash.-- Washington's public college presidents are joining forces to stop rising tuition costs.

Tuition hikes are difficult for students to manage and prevent many of them from getting a degree.

But the presidents of Washington's public state colleges are getting together to lay out a proposal that would freeze tuition rates for two years if the legislature increases higher education funding.

Tuition rates at public state colleges have been rising year after year, but college presidents want to slow that down to make higher education more affordable.

They're proposing a freeze on tuition hikes if lawmakers will restore $225 million dollars in funding.

"If we don't curtail this trend of disinvestment in higher education and curtail this trend of dramatic tuition increases then we risk pricing students out of higher education," said Chris Mulick, Washington State University Director of State Relations.

And that's just what's happening. Students are leaving school because they just can't pay for it. Others are rushing their way through, out of fear that their schooling will put them further in debt.

"Some students are trying to just take on as many classes as they can because they're afraid if they don't finish, they'll have to stay an extra year and tuition will cost even more then," said Amber Eubanks, WSU Tri-Cities Student Body President.

At Washington State University, tuition is up 75% over four years.

Because of funding cuts, they've had to raise tuition rates, but the school values making education affordable.

"Affordability more than anything else but also a reinvestiment in the quality of the education students deserve, and increase in enrollments providing the workforce that our employers need," Mulick said.

That duty of providing the state an educated workforce is taking a turn.

"People are starting to look at different routes to getting jobs. People are starting to look at ways around getting a four year degree. They're trying to do entrance level jobs," Eubanks said.

Governor Gregoire recently set a goal for no tuition increases in the next biennium, but the legislature and the schools are going to have to work together to find the money to keep kids in school at affordable prices.

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