Saturday, July 01, 2006

$100 million: enough to boost Washington state college enrollment?

After the bluster, the beef:
• Give free tuition for all first-year community college students and a matching financial break to freshmen entering four-year colleges — creating a "K-13" system.

• Raise annual tuition and fees for all state universities to reflect the rates set by nine peer states.

That would make the two research universities — the University of Washington and Washington State University — comparatively more expensive and encourage more students to enter the four other state universities. It also would give universities more money to spend on staff and students.

Tuition would rise about $1,600 at UW and WSU and about $1,000 at the other universities.

Community-college rates would remain the same. Students below median-income levels would get increased aid to offset tuition increases.

• Encourage low-income high-school students to attend college. Students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch in eighth grade would be promised free college tuition if they maintain at least a C average through their senior year in high school. Indiana uses a similar incentive.

• Give extra money to institutions and, in some cases, forgive student loans for those enrolled in high-demand fields, such as computer science and nursing. The goal is to open more enrollment slots as well as encourage more students to enter those fields.
They're just recommendations, though any or all might be taken up by either Christine Gregoire or the legislature. What word is missing, and conspicuous in its absence?

Yep. WASL. You can almost guarantee that if the C-average = free college tuition plan is sent to our lawmakers, they'll change it into a WASL-pass = free college tuition.

(I'm not exactly thrilled about setting the bar at a C average. Why expect only mediocrity?)

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