On Wednesday May 5, students and ASG representatives met for the second round of the tuition forum discussion. Although the information presented was useful, and seemed almost necessary given financial circumstances, the turnout of attendees was far below what everyone had hoped.
Due to the recession, many students have struggled with payment for classes often resulting in being dropped from registration and/or not having available funds for textbooks. With another year ahead of a seven percent increase of tuition, this might pose a potential decrease to the higher education population.Many cuts have been made in the governor’s budget book, especially to two major state programs which will leave some low-income students with little help. The State Need Grant Program is the most available financial help in the state of Washington.
It has given over 72,000 students with low-income grants for their tuition and fees. The cuts made to this program have removed about 15,500 students from eligibility for grants. Considering that only students who live below 70 percent of the median family income are eligible to receive state need grants, the budget cut to this program has hurt the student body’s most susceptible population. Also, since State Work Study program has experienced the most budget cuts, there has been a large decrease of financial help to lower income students. The State Work Study program has provided $23.5 million to assist 9,400 student jobs, according to the Washington Student Association’s website. Despite the successful aid that this program has made possible, due to the overwhelming cuts made, non-resident students will not be qualified for the SWS program any longer. This could potentially bring devastation to many foreign students, even at Bellevue College.
“A big chunk of what the state looks to for budget cut is higher education,” said ASG President Joseph Root. This is shown by congress last year approving a 14 percent tuition increase for 4-year colleges and a seven percent increase for CTC schools. BC would have been dealt more of a blow if it had not been for our students and representatives rallying in Olympia.
Some say that perhaps state budget cuts should be made in the department of affordable housing. In the hiring freeze Washington is still experiencing, however, low-income housing seems to be increasingly important as well. This present recession has brought to the attention of many that they can no longer live under low-income conditions. This realization will result in, and has already, more parents, high school graduates and so on, trying to return to school. The increase in students also entails that more government grants and student’s loans will be taken out.
If the state persists in making budget cuts to CTC schools and State Work Study programs, then the most vulnerable of the student body will be at risk. The only way to combat this is with the cooperation of the student body. If students could get legislature to make a binding agreement, then to a certain point, slashing away at higher education funding would not be allowed.
Students all around could aid in lowering tuition not only for themselves but giving a voice to those who stand helpless in the eyes of higher education.
There are in fact steps students can take such as rallying in Olympia and trying to negotiate with legislative members to make the cuts other places. With more opportunities given to forward moving individuals, who might not be able to afford it otherwise, many great things could be done. The key is the student body who are willing to carve a way for positive changes.