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  • Source: University of Washington

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Prospective students and their parents were understandably outraged when the University of Washington recently announced that it was cutting the available slots for in-state freshmen by three percent at the Seattle campus, in order to make room for more lucrative nonresidents. And I'm sure the news that even the Tacoma and Bothell campuses are now heavily recruiting in California and elsewhere didn't calm any nerves. But I'm guessing folks might be a little surprised to learn how much the UW has been forced to cater to out-of-staters in order to compete for their tuition dollars.

According to the UW's own statistics, between 2000-2001 and 2006-2007, undergraduate nonresident tuition grew at a slightly higher pace than resident tuition, 71 percent compared to 59 percent. But over the past four years that trend has dramatically reversed, with resident tuition rising another 45 percent since 2006-2007, compared to a 19 percent combined hike for nonresidents.

For example last year, resident tuition jumped by 13.1 percent, while nonresident tuition only rose by 3.9 percent, well less than than annual 5.6 percent public four-year tuition inflation reported by the College Board.

Such a deal.

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Of course, UW administrators really aren't to blame. Legislators have slashed support for higher education by more than 50 percent over the past two budgets, demanding that our universities cut costs and operate more like a business. So the UW has chosen the rational path of seeking to maximize revenues by attracting higher paying customers. That's what businesses do, right?

I guess. But I just don't see how this policy serves the interests of Washington's youth or its economy.

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