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$20K in-state tuition may not be far off in Washington

A child who is 11 years old today could be paying more than $20,000 by the time he or she enters state school, according to an actuarial reportprepared for the state's prepaid tuition program.

Those numbers mean that higher education rates may quadruple from 2004 to 2019. Supporters of the university system hope that the state can begin restoring at least some of the cuts to blunt those rising costs.

Don Bennett of the  Student Achievement Council, which oversees the Guaranteed Education Tuition program, said the increases reflect a basic shift in philosophy on a key question: Who should shoulder the cost of higher education, the state or the student?

"We’ve moved to the point where the student and their family are paying the majority of those costs. And that’s not likely to change," Bennett said.

Students at the University of Washington are preparing to pay $11,782 in this coming academic year, along with some additional fees not included in the prepaid tuition calculations, up more than 15 percent from the year prior.

The organization State Higher Education Executive Officers finds that Washington has slashed fundingto state colleges and universities by 21.2 percent over the last five years, compared with just 12.5 percent nationwide. Bennett says once the system adjusts to the new funding realities, increases could settle back into a more natural rate of growth.

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Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.