Office of Planning and Budgeting

Hi, my name is Becka Johnson. I recently joined the OPB as the Higher Education Policy Analyst and am excited to be contributing to the OPBlog as part of my new position. I earned a BA in Psychology from Whitman College and, this June, I received my Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the UW’s Evans School of Public Affairs. I look forward to putting my experience to use at the UW and to keeping the community informed of relevant policy topics.

Please feel free to contact me at jbecka@uw.edu if you have any questions or feedback. Thanks for reading!

See the latest OPB brief for information about today’s state revenue forecast update.

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front lately. Mainly due to our focus on redesigning the OPB website, which has just gone live!

In particular, we have:

  • Created a new office directory that allows the user to search for staff by content area.
  • Created multiple ways to identify or locate the content you are searching for, including OPB department homepages, quicklinks for popular destinations, topical top-bar navigation that seeks to direct users to popular content even if they are not familiar with UW/OPB terminology or departmental divides, and a search button specifically for OPB content.
  • Added a homepage SlideDeck feature that highlights more recent content in a user friendly way.
  • Created an automated blog feed on the homepage!

While the website will be a work in progress, we hope it represents a major step forward in terms of the user experience. Look out in the coming months for a great interactive data portal, as well as new interfaces for the BillTracker and for accessing current and historic tuition and fee rates.

Many thanks are owed to Creative Communications for their amazing work with us throughout this project! Their creativity and professionalism (not to mention patience with those of us who knew far too little about all things technical) has been invaluable. We look forward to continuing to work with them as we continue to build out the site!

Please contact us with any feedback, questions, or problems regarding this new website!

Make sure to check out the following recent additions to the website:

  • Updated printable UW Fact Cards for your wallets and pockets and new UW Fast Facts! Please let us know if you have any questions.
  • Updated brief on Institutional autonomy among UW peer institutions across the US.
  • Final Decision Summary and Overview report on Activity Based Budgeting.

We are working on a website overhaul that we hope to roll out in the coming months, and our main aim is to make OPB information and resources as easy (and pleasant) to find as possible. Stay tuned!

During a special meeting this morning, the UW Board of Regents unanimously approved 2011-12 tuition rates, the FY 2012 operating budget, and the FY 2012 capital budget. In their first exercise setting tuition rates without caps imposed by the Washington State Legislature, Regents approved a 20 percent increase (or $1,624) for resident undergraduate tuition rates next year (4 percent higher than the increase approved by the Legislature in the operating budget), bringing total tuition to $9,746. With required fees, tuition and fees will total $10,574. Nonresident undergraduate tuition will increase 10 percent to $27,230. Graduate and professional tuition rates will increase at varying rates, which can be found on page 5 of the operating budget.

Note that increases in undergraduate resident tuition will be met with significant increases in financial aid. The UW will increase the amount of tuition revenue set aside for resident undergraduate financial aid by 45 percent ($12 million). More information on financial aid is available in the two-page information item posted at the end of this blog.

The operating and capital budgets were first considered during public information-only, regular May 12 meeting of the Board of Regents and several tuition proposals detailing different rate options and revenue data were considered by Regents at a public information-only, regular meeting on June 9.

Please contact our office (or post comments directly via this blog) with any questions you may have about next year’s budgets and tuition rates. Also, please review a two-page UW Resident Undergraduate Tuition Information Item for a brief summary of tuition and financial aid during the coming academic year.

Friday, the Seattle Times published an article about a potential agreement between lawmakers to, given several years of steep funding cuts, allow Washington’s universities to set undergraduate resident tuition rates for a limited number of years and with new financial aid and accountability requirements.

News of this agreement comes as the Legislature is in the middle of a 30 day special session, and while a negotiated budget and resolution on tuition rates for resident undergraduate students is not yet final, a new OPB brief provides some national context for and information about tuition setting policy.

Be sure to check out the latest OPB brief on the use of differential tuition at public universities. The brief primarily focuses on differential tuition by major or class standing, which is now in effect at over 50 percent of all public research institutions in the US.

You might notice links for a new website, UW Budget Watch, popping up on UW homepages (including OPB and right here on the blog).

OPB worked with Web Communications staff to develop one website that would consolidate many sources of information relating to the state budget and how it has and is expected to continue affecting the University. You will find links to blogs (the absolute best way to get the most up to the date and timely notices) and other UW and non-UW websites, as well as many educational documents, messages about the budget from UW leadership, videos about the current funding situation, and information about related UW initiatives.

We have found sites such as this very helpful in keeping up to date with our peer institutions, and we hope that our page will be as useful for anyone interested in keeping up on the latest developments.

So, visit the page often and we will work hard to keep it updated!

Were you surprised to learn in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week that, in 2008, the UW received over $19,500 in state appropriations per student, the second highest rate in the country? Well, so were we!

Office of Planning Budgeting staff worked with the Chronicle to clarify that they were not reporting state appropriations per student, but what the Delta Cost Project calls the overall educational ‘subsidy’ enjoyed by students, which includes state appropriations but also other revenues such as gifts and endowment income.

The Chronicle agreed to revise the text of their chart to match the measure they were actually reporting, and they also wrote up an accompanying article to explain why the revision was important, using the UW as an example. Please read our brief for more detail and links to the revised publications.

We don’t think the overall ‘subsidy’ figure that DELTA produces by looking at IPEDS finance survey data is a very useful one when comparing institutions on education related funding per student, nor do we think that 2008 funding levels tell us much about where public flagship institutions are now, but it is very important that the Chronicle narrative now matches the data and the chart is no longer misleading.

OPB published a new brief yesterday discussing expectations for the upcoming Washington State revenue and caseload/entitlement forecasts, and how both are likely to affect UW state funding levels.

**EDITED TO ADD: Note that after we released this information, the new caseload forecast was released and lowered the expected growth of caseloads for K-12, Medicaid, and Corrections. In particular, the anticipated impacts of federal healthcare reform lowered the predicted caseload for state-supported medical programs by $117 million in the long-term and $70 million in the short-term.**

Nationally, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) updated their analysis of state budget shortfalls this week. They summarize the challenges faced by states via their blog:

  • For fiscal year 2012, one of the most difficult budget years on record. Some 44 states are projecting shortfalls totaling $112 billion for the year, which begins July 1 in most states. (See chart below.)  This figure is somewhat lower than in our previous version of this analysis, largely because of actions that Illinois took in its last legislative session that reduced the size of its 2012 shortfall.
  • The loss of emergency federal assistance. Assistance through the 2009 Recovery Act and the August 2010 jobs bill has been a huge help to states, allowing them to balance their budgets with smaller budget cuts and tax increases than they would otherwise need to make.  But that aid will largely be gone by the end of fiscal year 2011.
  • A long road to recovery. Already, 26 states are projecting shortfalls totaling $75 billion for fiscal year 2013, which begins in 16 months.  This number will likely grow once all states have prepared estimates.

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