Hill’s budget stopped tuition hikes; earlier increases second highest in country since 2008

Washington’s public college and university students faced the second highest tuition increase in the country since the 2008 economic recession according to a new study. After becoming the Senate’s chief budget writer in 2013, Sen. Andy Hill stopped that trend by sponsoring and earning approval for budgets that froze tuition rates for two consecutive years, which had not happened since 1981.

“Good jobs increasingly require education after high school and in order to earn those jobs Washington students must have access to Washington’s world-class programs,” said Hill, of Redmond, who serves as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “For too many years state budgets were balanced at the expense of students and their families. When putting together my proposal in 2013 and update earlier this year I committed to prioritizing students.”

The study was conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which found that Washington’s average tuition rate at public colleges and universities increased by $4,085 since 2008, which ranked second in the country.

Tuition hikes had been an issue even before the recession, with rates at state research institutions more than doubling over the past decade and increasing every year since 1986.

In the 2013 state budget Hill added $18 million to expand enrollment slots for degrees in computer science and engineering to address increased demand for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. He also included $25 million in the 2014 budget update for the state’s Opportunity Scholarship, which is a public-private partnership that provides financial aid to low- and middle-income students studying high demand career fields including STEM and health care.

In 2013, Hill was named a ‘Top Dawg’ by the University of Washington’s legislative advocacy organization for his role in “passing a budget that reinvests in higher education for the first time in four years,” and for providing funding that allowed the “UW to expand enrollment in computer science and engineering programs.”