Office of Planning and Budgeting

New Ranking Lists UW Programs in Top 10 Globally

Posted under Institutional Research by Kyle Schoenfeld 

The Center for World University Rankings has ranked the University of Washington among the top universities in the world. In its inaugural Rankings by Subject, released last week, CWUR ranked the UW in the top 10 worldwide in a total of 45 subject categories. The UW had the ninth-most top-10 appearances of any university, ranking just behind the University of Oxford (47 top-10 appearances) and just ahead of MIT (41).

Unlike most university rankings, CWUR does not make use of data provided by universities themselves. Instead, the CWUR Rankings by Subject are calculated based on the number of research articles published in top-tier journals by an institution’s faculty. CWUR ranked a total of 227 subject areas.

The UW’s top-10 rankings included fields from Acoustics (6th) to Women’s Studies (5th). In all, the UW received top-5 rankings in 22 fields, and its Social Work program was ranked #1 in the world.

More information on CWUR’s methodology is available on their website.

2017 Legislative Session– OPB Brief on House Appropriations Operating Budget Proposal

Posted under Capital, State Legislature, UW Budget by Jed Bradley 

On Monday, leadership in the House Appropriations Committee released their initial operating budget proposal. This proposal follows last week’s release of the Senate operating proposal and December’s release of the Governor’s operating and capital proposals.

See the new OPB brief here for information regarding the House proposal, as well as a full comparison between current budget proposals.

Some noteworthy items in the House Appropriations operating budget proposal include:

  • Compensation: Partially funds a 2 percent increase in FY18 and two 2 percent increases in FY19 for non-represented employees, and partially funds collective bargaining agreements for represented employees.
  • Tuition Policy: Like the Governor’s proposal, the House would freeze resident undergraduate tuition across all public higher education institutions for two years, and would provide funding to cover the difference between the tuition freeze and incremental revenue expected under current policy.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Adds $6 million to the UW over the biennium to increase degree production in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
  • Financial Aid: Appropriates $49.2 million to the State Need Grant to reduce the number of unserved, eligible students, by 25 percent (around 6000 students).
  • Provisos: Adds new funding for several targeted efforts, including funding for the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE Program)

In addition, the Senate Ways & Means committee released its proposed capital budget on Tuesday, and the OPB brief on the Senate’s proposals has been updated. Some highlights include:

  • Funding to complete the Burke Museum ($24.2 million)
  • Minor Works and Preventative Maintenance ($70.8 million from the UW Building Account)
  • Major Infrastructure – Seismic Upgrades ($10 million)
  • Population Health Sciences Building ($15 million)
  • Health Sciences Education – T-wing Renovation ($10 million)
  • Center for Advanced Materials and Clean Energy ($10 million)
  • Evans School – Parrington Hall Renovation ($10 million)

The House has not released a capital budget as of the time of this posting, but that brief will be updated once that information is available.


Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on proposed budgets.

2017 Legislative Session– OPB Brief on Senate Ways & Means Chair Operating Budget Proposal

Posted under State Legislature, UW Budget by Jed Bradley 

On Tuesday, leadership in the Senate Ways & Means Committee released their initial 2017-19 operating budget proposal. This proposal is the first from a legislative body following the release of Governor Inslee’s operating and capital budget proposals from December. See OPB’s brief here for a full comparison. Unlike the Governor’s budget proposal, the Senate does not propose significant new revenue, and therefore would provide far fewer new investments in new and existing programs.

Some noteworthy items in the Senate budget proposal include:

  • Tuition Policy: Maintains current tuition policy allowing a 2.2 percent increase in resident undergraduate tuition in FY18 and a 2.0 percent increase in FY19. The Governor proposed freezing tuition for two years, and provided funds to backfill that freeze.
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: Adds $10.5 million to the UW over the biennium to increase resident undergraduate enrollments in STEM and other fields.
  • Financial Aid: Reduces the UW’s state appropriation by $5.2 million over the biennium and assume that the University would offset the reduction by reducing tuition waivers provided to students.
  • Compensation: Partially funds $500 wage increases per year for faculty, staff, and represented employees. The budget would also reject tentative collective bargaining agreements between the UW and represented employees.
  • New “Central Service”: Reinstates a charge for central services provided by the Governor’s Office of Financial Management, which would divert $7.5 million in tuition revenue over the biennium.

The Senate did not release a capital budget as of the time of this posting, but the brief will be updated once that information is available. We expect to review proposals from the House Appropriations Committee early next week, and will post additional information at that time.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on proposed budgets.

OPBlog: Introduction

Posted under OPB News and Announcements by Sharyl Morris 

Hello! My name is Sharyl Morris and I am one of the Legislative Analysis staff members in the Office of Planning & Budgeting. I have been employed in the field of higher education since 2001, when I began working in the main library at Tufts University (Medford, Massachusetts). As I worked my way from the east coast to the west coast, I also shifted my focus from university libraries to administrative planning and budgeting and policy analysis. During session, I track bills that are introduced by the legislature and prepare fiscal notes that are used by legislative staff as they determine the direction and funding level of proposed bills.

When the legislature is not in session, I support OPB’s Budget Office where my areas of expertise include financial index maintenance, fixed cost analysis, revolving funds, and Student Technology Fee support.

Like the others on my team, I will be updating this blog with posts involving various higher education topics. My first post is a brief on cohort-based tuition models.

Please send me an email if you have any questions or feedback. Thanks for reading!

New OPB Brief on Cohort-Based Tuition Models

Posted under Higher Ed Policy by Sharyl Morris 

A new brief from the Office of Planning & Budgeting provides an overview of cohort-based tuition models (also referred to as guaranteed tuition, tuition lock or fixed-rate tuition models), which is a form of tuition policy in which a cohort of matriculating students pays a fixed rate of tuition for some specified period of time. The brief explains the model in more detail and covers its effects on both students and institutions.

March Revenue Forecast Shows Positive Growth

Posted under Revenue Forecast, State Legislature by Matt Schoenfeld 

Earlier today, the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council (ERFC) released its March revenue forecast, which increased projected General Fund-State (GF-S) collections by $247 million for the current 2015-17 biennium and by $303 million for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium. These increases are on top of the increases projected in the November revenue forecast.

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

  • $38.227 billion for the 2015-17 biennium, 13.5 percent more than the 2013-15 biennium
  • $40.817 billion for the 2017-19 biennium, 6.8 percent more than the 2015-17 biennium
  • $43.842 billion for the 2019-21 biennium, 7.4 percent more than the 2017-19 biennium

Behind the numbers:

  • The forecast largely attributes the higher projections to increases in retail sales tax and Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) collections.
  • The forecast includes slightly stronger personal income and employment growth than were projected in November
  • Concerns cited in the forecast include slow global and U.S. Economic Growth, weak labor productivity growth and uncertainty regarding fiscal and trade policy.

Any excess revenue collected in the 2015-17 biennium will contribute to reserves that will be available as one-time funds to spend in the 2017-19 biennium. Budget writers in the Senate and House will use this updated forecast of fund balance and projected 2017-19 revenues as a baseline for their budget proposals, which are expected to be released within the next couple weeks. During today’s meeting of the Economic & Revenue Forecast Council, Senator Braun and Representative Ormbsy (chairs of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and House Appropriations Committee, respectively) discussed that overall, this revenue forecast is positive news and will be used to make final adjustments to each of their budget proposals.

The state continues to face significant budgetary challenges, largely due to required investments in K-12 education. Governor Inslee’s operating budget proposal, released in December, included over $4.4 billion in new revenue to help invest in K-12 education. Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on budget proposals as they are released by leadership in the House and Senate.


2017 Legislative Session Update

Posted under State Legislature by Matt Schoenfeld 

Wednesday, March 8, marked the last day for bills to be considered in (and pass out of) their house of origin during the 2017 Washington state legislative session. This is an important session cutoff, as it narrows the field of bills and helps us home I on those that may have traction towards become a law. As a reminder, however, bills can be introduced and brought back to life at any point in session if they are deemed essential towards implementation of the budget.

Throughout the 2017 session, the Office of Planning & Budgeting (OPB) has been actively tracking legislation that could directly impact the University community. At this point in session, OPB would like to provide a mid-session update by the numbers.

  • 64 – Today, March 13, marks the 64th day of the 105-day regular session. (Note: Due to significant financial pressures, especially those associated with fully funding K-12 education under the McCleary decision, it is likely that the legislature will require one or more special sessions on top of the 105-day regular session.)
  • 88 – The number of fiscal note requests responded to by OPB. Fiscal notes are requests from the state Office of Financial Management to evaluate the financial impact a bill would have on the UW.
  • 409 – The total number of bills being tracked by OPB that could impact the UW community.
  • 124 – The number of bills identified by OPB as “alive”, meaning those that passed out of the house of origin before the cutoff date.

Our focus at OPB now shifts from gaining a big picture view of all bills that may impact the University, to focusing on the specific pieces of legislation that may have enough momentum to pass into law.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates regarding budget proposals from the House and Senate. Briefs on the Governor’s budget proposals, as well as information on all future budget proposals can be found here on the OPB Briefs webpage.

Kiplinger’s 2017 Best College Values Ranking

Posted under Institutional Research by Kyle Schoenfeld 

On December 15, 2016, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance released its 2017 list of the top 300 “Best College Values.” Kiplinger’s ranks their top 100 public universities based on both in-state and out-of-state cost of attendance. The University of Washington was ranked #12 among public universities in value for in-state students and #24 among public universities in value for out-of-state students. This continues a history of high rankings for the UW. Over the past five years, the UW has ranked #17 or better for in-state state students, and #28 or better for out-of-state students, each year.

The calculations for Kiplinger’s rankings are based on quality criteria (which account for 55 percent of an institution’s overall ranking) and cost criteria (which account for the remaining 45 percent). Quality criteria include:

  • Measures of competitiveness and selectivity (admission rate, percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll, and ACT and SAT scores of incoming freshman);
  • Four-year graduation rate; and
  • Measures of academic support (freshman retention rate and student-to-faculty ratio).

Cost criteria include:

  • Total cost (including tuition and fees as well as books and room and board, with added points for “schools that reduce the price through need-based [grant] aid” or “knock down the price through non-need-based aid”) and
  • Student indebtedness (students’ average debt at graduation and the percentage of students who borrow).

Because public institutions typically have different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, Kiplinger’s provides two separate rankings. While the quality criteria used in both rankings are the same, only in-state students’ cost of attendance factors into the in-state ranking (and likewise for the out-of-state ranking).

As the Kiplinger’s ranking is based on selectiveness, academic outcomes, and cost, it should not be interpreted as either a “best colleges” list or a “most affordable” list. Among the top 10 public institutions for in-state students, for example, some institutions (e.g., College of William and Mary) are highly selective but more expensive, while others (e.g., University of Florida) have more inclusive admissions and lower four-year graduation rates but are more affordable.

For in-state students, the UW compares strongly with the highest-ranked public institutions on measures of affordability. For example, the UW’s cost of attendance for in-state students, after applying need-based aid, is $7,800 per year. The average cost among the top 10 in-state is 50 percent higher, at $11,700. UW students’ average debt at graduation is also lower, by about $2,000, than the average for top-10 institutions. Although the UW’s admit rate is higher and its four-year graduation rate is lower than some other top institutions’, its relative affordability contributes to a strong ranking (#12 in the nation) for in-state students.

The UW’s higher cost for out-of-state students contributes to an out-of-state ranking of #24. For out-of-state students, the UW’s cost of attendance after need-based aid ($31,800) is slightly higher than the average among top-10 institutions ($31,300).

More information about Kiplinger’s methodology is available on their website.

New Peer Tuition Comparisons Now Available

Posted under Higher Ed Research, Institutional Research by Kyle Schoenfeld 

The Office of Planning & Budgeting has recently published new peer tuition comparisons for the 2016-17 academic year. The new tuition comparisons allow you to see UW tuition rates alongside those of peer institutions.

In the past, OPB has published tuition comparisons for Global Challenge State (GCS) peer institutions. However, more recently OPB has moved away from GCS peer comparisons toward comparisons based on the US News & World Report ranking of Top Public Schools. The 2017 US News ranking is available now (the UW is ranked #16 in the nation). The US News peer comparison group includes all public Research 1 (R1) universities ranked #25 or better; because of ties, and because not all top-25 universities are in the R1 category, there may be more or fewer than 25 institutions in this peer comparison group each year. (In order to make comparisons across time, historical averages are calculated based on the 2017 US News peer list, not the US News list current at the time.)

Comparisons include undergraduate, graduate, MBA, PharmD, law, medicine, and dentistry tuition rates for both resident and nonresident students. Most data are provided through the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE). For peer institutions that are not part of AAUDE, we found tuition data on the universities’ websites.

For each tuition category, we provide a list of current tuition rates at each institution, along with a chart comparing UW tuition against the peer group average over the past 5 years. This allows you to look at both the UW’s current rates as well as recent trends, side by side with peers. For example, the UW’s resident undergraduate tuition rate is well below the peer average, partially due to tuition decreases in the last two years. Nonresident undergraduate tuition rates, on the other hand, have tracked closely with the peer average (remaining within 5% of the average over the past five years).

You can see more in the peer tuition comparison file, and find other comparisons on OPB’s Peer Comparisons page. Please contact OPB Institutional Analysis at with any questions.

Governor Inslee’s Proposed 2017-19 Biennial Operating and Capital Budgets

Posted under State Legislature by Jed Bradley 

On Wednesday, Governor Inslee released his proposed 2017-19 biennial operating and capital budgets. For a detailed analysis and summary of the Governor’s proposals, please review the OPB brief.

The Governor’s ambitious spending plan relies on new revenue streams, including closing tax exemptions and establishing a new capital gains tax, to make significant investments in K-12 education, mental health, and homelessness. Funding for the UW would include salary increases for faculty and staff and additional enrollment capacity in the UW’s WWAMI medical education program.

The Governor would freeze resident undergraduate tuition across all public higher education institutions for two years, and would provide funding to cover the difference between the tuition freeze and incremental revenue expected under current policy. Finally, his plan would allocate $116 million to expand the State Need Grant Program to reduce the number of students who are currently eligible but unserved due to insufficient funding.

As a reminder, this budget release marks the first step of a lengthy budget process. Lawmakers in the Senate and the House will have the opportunity to release their own budget proposals over the course of the 2017 legislative session – set to begin on Monday, January 9, 2017.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates during the 2017 legislative session.

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