Office of Planning and Budgeting

According to a recent story by The Seattle Times, Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program officially reopened on November 1. The GET program is a college-savings program. Under GET, families purchase GET units, currently valued at $113, to prepay the cost of tuition. GET account holders are guaranteed that 100 units will cover one year of full-time, undergraduate, resident tuition and fees at Washington’s most expensive public university at any point in the future.

In July 2015, the GET Committee authorized a two-year delay in most new unit sales, given the legislature’s decision to decrease resident undergraduate tuition at public institutions. During this time, GET was required to complete a legislatively mandated study to evaluate its future. The GET Committee voted to reopen the program earlier this summer and to “rebase” all existing accounts. Customers who held accounts prior to the freeze were given additional units because the unit payout value was reset to reflect current, lower, tuition. GET is now available to people who want to start new accounts and those who want to continue buying GET units.

The legislatively mandated study also tasked the GET Committee with looking into implementing other college savings options, such as a “529” college savings plan (which refers to Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code). As a result of that effort, a new 529 savings plan, to be offered alongside GET, is currently scheduled to open in early 2018.

OPB has released two new briefs.

The first brief focuses on trends in Resident Undergraduate (RUG) tuition rates and state funding environments across the United States, based on the most recent “Trends in College Pricing” report, which is released by the College Board each year. The report identifies Washington as the only state to have lower RUG tuition and fee rates than it did five years ago.

The report serves as a basis for a deep dive into the funding environments of some other case studies. The brief looks at Louisiana, Florida and Ohio as comparisons to Washington, as they are the three other states whose legislatures retain RUG tuition setting authority. Despite this fact, each state has had a variety of outcomes regarding tuition policy. California and Maine are also highlighted as case study comparisons because they are the only two other states to show a decrease in tuition over the past five years, though theirs are due to inflation-adjusted tuition freezes.

The second brief is an updated version of previous “Published Price vs. Net Price” briefs, which reflects the newest available data. The brief includes sector-wide data on increases in published price and net price for public and private four-year colleges, a description of how declining state investment in higher education has spurred tuition increases, and a table comparing the UW’s net price net price for resident undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid to its U.S. News & World Report top 25 research university peers.

Finally, it is with subdued excited that to announce that these two briefs and blog post will be my last contribution to OPB as an intern. I am graduating tomorrow from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, while taking a job down at the State Capitol in Olympia. Thanks to all for reading!

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.

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 uwir@uw.edu with any questions.

OPB’s Institutional Analysis team and UW-IT’s Enterprise Information, Integration & Analytics unit announce seven new peer finance dashboards, available now in UW Profiles. These new dashboards join four existing peer dashboards. Peer dashboards use data publicly available through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to allow users to compare the UW to peer institutions around the country on a range of student- and finance-focused measures.

With the new finance dashboards, users can compare revenues, expenses, and endowment values at the UW and peer institutions. They can also explore the relative importance of different revenue sources and expense categories across institutions. The expenses story dashboard provides a step-by-step look at the expenses that directly or indirectly support universities’ research and instruction missions.

More information about each of the new peer finance dashboards is available through the online documentation. Please feel free to send any questions or comments to uwprofiles@uw.edu.

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.

The Lincoln Project, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ study of public research universities (PRUs), has recently come out with its fifth and final report, which examines the challenges facing PRUs and recommends strategies for addressing them. The recommendations are threefold:

  1. Address Financial Challenges:

The sharp reduction in state funding for PRUs—down 30 percent since the year 2000—has been particularly harmful because it has forced public universities to raise tuition. This directly affects access for low-income students—one of the key responsibilities of public higher education. For this reason, the authors highlight financial aid for low-income, in-state undergraduate students as the most important program that institutions can provide. The UW’s Husky Promise program, which provides free tuition to resident undergraduates with financial need, is an example of this type of financial aid.

To cope with diminished state funding, the report also recommends:

  • Regional alliances with other PRUs, allowing the schools to combine programs;
  • Focusing fundraising on unrestricted donations, allowing universities to put the money towards core educational programs;
  • State-led creation of PRU long-term funding plans, allowing universities to more securely plan for their future; and
  • Advocating for additional federal research support.
  1. Form Public-Private Partnerships:

In the authors’ view, there is a natural alliance between PRUs and businesses. PRUs are critical to the business community: they educate workers and provide research upon which businesses and corporations build their enterprises. Universities also rely on businesses for funding assistance and for employment opportunities for their graduates. The report recommends that businesses provide research funds, well-paid internships, scholarships, and other support mechanisms for universities and their students. Universities, in turn, should provide easier access to their research and actively work towards partnering with businesses. The UW has a variety of public-private partnerships, including its Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), a partnership with Microsoft and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

  1. Serve Students:
  • Simplify financial aid: Filling out a FAFSA is a complicated process which can impede access to higher education. Simplifying the loan application procedure would help ensure that a larger proportion of students who are interested in higher education get access to the funds they need to pursue their goals.
  • Track student performance: Thanks to improved data analysis tools, universities have an enhanced ability to help students graduate. The report highlights Georgia State University (GSU) as a particularly successful example. GSU uses an algorithm to pinpoint students at risk of failing or dropping out, enabling the university’s advising services to intervene on a one-to-one basis. According to the report, these interventions have increased graduation rates by 20 percent, reduced time to graduation, and eliminated graduation rate differences between racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
  • Improve transfer pathways: The report recommends that four-year institutions work with community colleges to simplify the transfer procedure. Doing so can make higher education more affordable and accessible and can help transfer students graduate with a four-year degree on time and with as little debt as possible.

Two overarching themes of the Lincoln Project’s report are partnerships and accessibility. Public universities will need both in order to continue fulfilling their dual missions of conducting top-level research and providing high-quality, affordable higher education.

The rising costs of college are a popular subject for everyone from presidential candidates to media outlets. Parents and students blanche as published tuition prices climb ever higher. But the published price – often referred to as the “sticker price” for colleges – offers a misleading picture of the cost of higher education. OPB has updated our brief to reflect the newest available data on published price vs. net price. Highlights include:

  • Sector-wide data on increases in published price and net price for public and private four-year colleges
  • A description of how declining state investment in higher education has spurred tuition increases
  • A table of the top 25 research universities’ net price for resident undergraduates receiving grant or scholarship aid

Our updated brief is accessible here.

 

Over the past few months, income share agreements (ISAs) have received significant attention from political candidates, higher education advocates, and news sources. A new OPB brief takes a closer look at ISAs by:

  • Exploring differences between and the history of privately funded ISAs and publicly funded ISAs (such as Pay It Forward).
  • Comparing ISAs to federal income-based repayment (IBR) plans in terms of overall structure, years to repayment, monthly payments, and total cost over time.
  • Identifying remaining issues regarding ISAs and their implementation.
  • Offering alternatives like improving federal loan repayment options.

Please contact Jed Bradley if you have any questions.

The Obama administration has introduced a plan to bring back year-round Pell Grants and to create a $300 bonus for Pell recipients taking at least 15 credits a semester. Both elements of the plan are designed to incentivize students to graduate faster and accrue less debt in school. The plan would cost $2 billion over the next year, according to the Department of Education.

The year-round Pell Grant program was initially put in place by President Bush in 2008 but was cut in 2011 as a budget-saving measure. While the effort to reinstate the program will likely face significant Congressional opposition, there is some bipartisan support. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-LA), Chair of the Senate education committee, and Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado are cosponsoring legislation to reintroduce year-round Pell Grants. “We have long supported providing students a more flexible Pell Grant program and hope this is one of many areas Congress and the administration can work together to strengthen higher education,” a Republican education committee spokesman was quoted as saying in Inside Higher Ed. Even with this bipartisan support, however, the administration faces a difficult task in getting the legislation through a very budget-conscious Congress.

The $300 bonus, dubbed “15 to finish” by education non-profits, is also somewhat controversial, though the division is between a different set of stakeholders than the Pell Grant expansion. Many college completion non-profits support 15 to finish, saying that encouraging 15 credit semesters is an important tool in incentivizing Pell recipients to graduate on time. The plan has drawn criticism, however, from community college leaders and adult student advocates, who contend that 15 credits is too many for students who are busy working or who have come into higher education unprepared for college-level work.

See the UW Federal Relations department post for further information on the Pell Grant proposal.

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