Office of Planning and Budgeting

On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld University of Texas at Austin’s race-conscious admissions policy in its second consideration of a Fisher v. University of Texas appeal. As a reminder, the case stemmed from a lawsuit by Abigail Fisher, a white applicant to UT Austin who claimed she was unfairly rejected due to the university’s affirmative action admissions program. Since our last update, when the Supreme Court ordered the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reconsider the case, the appellate court affirmed their decision in favor of UT, and Fisher again appealed that court’s decision to the Supreme Court. For additional background on this case, please see our previous two posts, found here and here.

The case was decided by an unusual 4-3 margin due to Justice Kagan’s recusal and the recent death of Justice Scalia. According to the NY Times, Justice Kennedy, who had never before voted to uphold an affirmative action plan, wrote for the majority that “…it remains an enduring challenge to our nation’s education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity.”

This decision marks the end of the Fisher case, but the debate over affirmative action in higher education carries on.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates.

Last week, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its June revenue forecast, which increased projected General Fund-State (GF-S) collections by $294 million for the current 2015-17 biennium and by $126 million for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium. This is an improvement over the February forecast, which had predicted slower revenue growth in both biennia (see our blog post here). As a reminder, there will be at least three more revenue forecasts between now and when the legislature sets the 2017-19 budget.

Here is a quick summary of the total projected GF-S revenue for each biennia:

  • $37.431 billion for the 2015-17 biennium, 11.2 percent more than 2013-15.
  • $40.252 billion for the 2017-19 biennium, 7.5 percent more than 2015-17.
  • $43.575 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, 8.3 percent more than 2017-19.

Behind the numbers:

  • The forecast attributed the increase to strong sales of large commercial properties and rising home prices.
  • Other positives included growth in housing permits and increases in inflation, which typically result in greater retail sales, business taxes, and property taxes.
  • Slight decreases in U.S. and Washington state personal income forecasts continue to have a negative effect on the revenue forecast.

According to a press release from the Governor’s Office of Financial Management, “With the latest forecast, the state is now projected to have nearly $1.5 billion in total reserves at the end of the current biennium and more than $1.4 billion at the end of the 2017–19 biennium. Those reserve figures, however, do not take into account the multibillion obligation the state faces in the next biennium to meet its constitutional obligation to fully fund basic education.”

As a result, state agencies, including the UW, have received instructions to severely limit requests for new programs or policy initiatives in their requests for state funding in the 2017-19 biennium.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on revenue forecasts.

The estimated annual cost of attendance for first-year UW undergraduates is now available for the 2016-17 academic year.  Cost of attendance shows estimated expenses by campus for:

  • Tuition
  • Student fees
  • Room & board
  • Books, personal, & transportation

Cost of attendance (COA) is defined by the Higher Education Act.  It is a statutory term that typically refers to the estimated cost for a full-time student to attend an institution of higher education for a standard nine-month academic year.

After accounting for grant and scholarship aid, UW students (particularly resident undergraduates) often pay far less than the estimated COA.  In 2014-15 (the most recent year for which net price data is available), the published price for resident undergraduates at Seattle was $27,112, whereas the net price for first-time, resident undergraduates at Seattle was $9,744.

We will annually update the COA information on our website.