Members of the Washington State University Board of Regents met in Seattle Friday, taking action on several items as well as hearing reports from constituencies across the system.
The most significant action taken by regents was setting tuition for the upcoming 2024–25 academic year. Regents approved a 3% increase in tuition for undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of residency status.
For a full-time resident undergraduate student, the annual tuition rate will increase $329 compared to the current academic year, from $10,976 to $11,305.
Students in several degree programs will observe no increase in tuition in the coming academic year. That includes the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences’ Doctor of Pharmacy program, the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program, and the College of Nursing’s Master of Nursing program. The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine will bring its proposed tuition rates before the board for approval in March.
During the Finance and Administration committee meeting Thursday, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration and Chief Financial Officer Leslie Brunelli noted that tuition rates for resident undergraduates are close to rates from a decade ago. The tuition rate for the 2012–13 academic year was $10,874.
Discussions about tuition rates for the upcoming academic year began last fall, with regents hearing reports on tuition affordability and soliciting feedback from students.
In a letter to the Board of Regents, the Student Government Council of Washington State University acknowledged the need to increase tuition, though they asked for a 2.5% increase rather than 3% rate that was adopted. They also urged university leaders to continue to “explore and implement cost-saving measures and seek additional revenue sources that do not disproportionately impact students.”
In the state of Washington, resident undergraduate tuition rates can’t be raised by more than the average annual percent growth of the median hourly wage in the past 14 years. As a result, the cap for academic year 2024–25 was set at 3%.
During the board’s November 2023 meeting, it was noted that the proportion of resident undergraduates paying no tuition increased from 31% in 2014 to 34% in 2023. Resident undergraduates paying the full cost of tuition fell in the same time period, from 42% to 35%. Today, nearly three out of four undergraduates receives some form of financial aid while attending WSU.
On Thursday, a presentation on fiscal year 2023 noted that operating expenses were on the rise, including a 7% increase in salary and wage expenses, amounting to a $40 million increase compared to last year. Matt Skinner, senior associate vice president and deputy CFO, noted that much of that increase was due to the university’s investment in salary increases for faculty and administrative professionals.
The university also expects to incur increased costs associated with its first-ever contract with WSU Academic Student Employees. WSU President Kirk Schulz addressed the need for that agreement as part of his presentation to board members.
“At the end of the day, I think when we talk about strengthening Washington State University, this is a key component, because our graduate students are key to our research enterprise,” Schulz said. “We need exceptional graduate students that feel supported, compensated, and want to come to Washington State University.”
Schulz also noted WSU’s promotion in the latest National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey as well as events commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the National Day of Racial Healing that took place across the system in his comments.
Regents also voted to approve revisions to several policies, including its conflict of interest and committee charters policies as well as amending the WSU Foundation’s investment policy and ratifying existing medical residency agreements.
The next WSU Board of Regents meeting is scheduled to take place on the Tri-Cities campus March 7–8. More information on the Board of Regents schedule and activities can be found on its website.