The NCSL Blog


By Dustin Weeden and Zoe Gibson

After decades of watching tuition continually rise faster than inflation, students in Washington and Minnesota will experience something new over the next two years: tuition reduction.

Capitol campus in Olympia, Wash.The Washington Legislature agreed on a budget that will reduce tuition between 5 and 20 percent at all public colleges and universities over the next two years.

Beginning this fall, all Washington residents will experience an initial 5 percent tuition reduction. For the 2016-2017 academic year, tuition at the large research universities will be lowered by an additional 10 percent and tuition at the regional four-year universities will be lowered by an additional 15 percent.

For students attending community colleges, tuition will be reduced by 5 percent this year and frozen at that level for next year. In addition, future tuition increases—beginning in 2017—will be linked to changes in the median family wage. As a result, the price students pay will rise at the same rate as the ability of families to pay.

Unlike in Washington, only Minnesotans attending community colleges will benefit from a tuition reduction. For the 2015-16 academic year, community college tuition will be frozen at current levels. Then for the 2016-17 academic year, tuition will be lowered by 1 percent.

Dustin Weeden is a policy specialist and Zoe Gibson is an intern in NCSL's education program.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.