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State college students likely to see higher tuition and financial aid

This fall, college students could face bigger tuition hikes than Washington has seen in nearly a decade. That’s after two years of double digit increases.

Under a bill signed by Governor Chris Gregoire, state colleges get to set their own rates. They’re also expected to help students who can’t afford to pay more. 

High school sophomore Zachary Tong really wants to go to college. His mom wants to see him get there, too. She emigrated from China and says she struggles to find work.

Tong says there’s one big thing standing in his way, though:

“I do need a scholarship, because me parents keep saying, oh, you should get a better education so you can have a better life than they did. And money is not the thing we have right now."

So he was excited to hear that Microsoft and Boeing each pledged $25 million dollars to a scholarship fund for low- and middle-income students. The state is supposed to match the money in the near future. 

It’s one of the ways lawmakers are trying soften the blow of skyrocketing tuition. The cost of attending the Washington State University and the University of Washington could be more than $9,300 next year. That’s more than double what it cost a decade ago:

UW Undergraduate Resident Tuition & Fees

Academic Year:    Cost:                Percent Change:
2000 - 01                $3,761             3.4%
2001 - 02                $3,983             5.9%
2002 - 03                $4,636             16.4%
2003 - 04                $4,968             7.2%
2004 - 05                $5,286             6.4%
2005 - 06                $5,610             6.1%
2006 - 07                $5,985             6.7%
2007 - 08                $6,385             6.7%
2008 - 09                $6,802             6.5%
2009 - 10                $7,692             13.1%
2010 - 11                $8,701             13.1%

Phyllis Wise, interim president of UW, says schools have to re-think their financial aid efforts:

“We understand that as we raise tuition more, we must provide even more financial aid. A much greater percent of that tuition than ever before has to go back to financial aid so that the middle class can afford to come."

There is more money for financial aid. Next year, students can potentially qualify if their parents make up to $98,000 dollars a year for a family of four. If lower-income students like Tong haven’t already snapped up the aid. It’s expected to go to the neediest students first.

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.