Office of Planning and Budgeting

Leadership in the House and Senate released a 2017-19 compromise state operating budget on June 30, 2017 in the form of Substitute Senate Bill 5883. The Governor signed the budget less than an hour before midnight, narrowly avoiding a partial state government shutdown. Lawmakers also passed a partial capital budget that reappropriates unspent capital funding from the 2015-17 biennium, which allows previously authorized projects to continue into the new biennium, but does not make new appropriations for 2017-19.

brief from the Office of Planning & Budgeting provides a detailed overview of the final compromise operating budget and partial capital budget. We expect that a compromise 2017-19 capital budget will be released within a couple weeks, and will update the brief at that time.

The final compromise operating budget represents a middle ground between budget proposals released by the Governor, House and Senate earlier this session. The budget maintains current tuition policy, allowing for a 2.2 percent resident undergraduate tuition increase in FY18. Lawmakers made significant investments to maintain and expand state programs, especially in K-12 education. As a reminder, this budget cycle largely focused on meeting the state’s K-12 funding obligations, due to the state Supreme Court’s ruling in McCleary v. State of Washington.

Investments directed at the UW include funding for employee compensation, medical education, STEM enrollments, and several research initiatives across academic disciplines. However, lawmakers also reduced the UW’s state funding and assumed an offsetting reduction in tuition waived for graduate students. They also instituted a new charge to state agencies for services provided by the Governor’s Office of Financial Management (OFM), which will result in the UW having to use $3 million in student tuition revenue over the biennium to support OFM instead of the University’s academic mission.

 

Please contact Jed Bradley if you have any questions.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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 House and Senate did not come to an agreement on a 2016 supplemental budget by the end of the 60-day regular session, which was slated to end March 10. Several news outlets reported the tense ending, which featured Governor Inslee vetoing 27 bills (see examples here, here, and here). The Governor convened a 30-day special session, which began immediately.

On Friday, leadership in the Senate Ways & Means Committee released a new proposal for a 2016 supplemental operating budget (PSSB 6667). Last month, OPB released a brief comparing the Governor’s proposal, House proposal, and the Senate’s original proposal. That brief outlines the major components of each budget.

Like the Senate’s original proposal, this offer proposes $3.513 million in additional biennial funding to “true up” the tuition backfill associated with 2ESB 5954. However, both Senate proposals would almost entirely negate this additional backfill funding by converting activities conducted by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) into a central service charged to state agencies. Over the biennium, the UW would be charged $1.252 million from its state general fund appropriation and $2.042 million from tuition operating fee revenue for these OFM central services, a total of $3.294 million.

This proposal differs from the original Senate proposal in that it: 

  • Does not cut WWAMI: The original proposal included a cut of $1.2 million
  • Does not fund a proviso for youth suicide prevention at UW’s Forefront: The original proposal allocated $97,000 in FY17 to fund 2SSB 6243, but that bill did not pass the House.
  • Shifts $18 million in cost savings from College Bound (CB) program to State Need Grant (SNG): The original proposal shifted only $14 million, effectively cutting SNG by $4.5 million.

During a press conference responding to this release, leadership in the House emphasized continuing negotiations toward a compromised budget and gave no indication that they would release a public budget offer.

Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on proposed budgets.

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