This is almost unheard of these days. While most public colleges charge more almost every year, it turns out Washington state is going to cut tuition, for everyone at its public universities. Why’d it decide to do this? Well, because the tuition was just getting unaffordable. According to this Associated Press article:

The Washington Legislature approved a new two-year state budget on Monday that would cut tuition at all of the state’s four year colleges and universities by 15 to 20 percent over the next two years, while increasing state dollars going to higher education. Community college students will see tuition go down 5 percent next year.

Many states enact tuition freezes at its schools periodically but these policies, while politically appealing, tend to result in huge tuition hikes later on. Only Minnesota has also tried a tuition cut, though it’s much more limited; there’s only a 1 percent cut for community college students next year and other state colleges and universities can still charge more.


Part of the reason for the Washington decision is that over the last few years its colleges have been increasing tuition a lot. Tuition at the state’s public colleges has increased 34 percent over the last 5 years, according to this article in the Seattle Times. Washington tuition is now 16 percent above the national average.

According to the same article, Washington will fund this cut by ending several tax exemptions, including a preferential business-and-occupation tax rate for royalty income and a special break for software manufacturers.

It’s a welcome development though, as many people quoted in other articles about the tuition cut said, the question is if this is part of a trend that will grow and expand, or is this just a one-time gift to students and families after years of screwing them over.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer