CHENEY, Wash. - In response to the recent budget reductions mandated by the state of Washington, the Eastern Washington University Board of Trustees (BOT) has approved a 2011-13 operating budget that permanently cuts $24.9 million over the next two years. This will result in the elimination of 7-10 degree programs and between 15-20 positions university-wide (some of which are vacant).
The budget also includes an 11 percent tuition increase for each of the next two years, the lowest tuition increase rate among all state universities and colleges. This means in-state, undergraduate tuition will increase by $626 the first year (from $6,063 to $6,689).
Eastern also has the lowest overall annual cost of attendance including housing, books and fees. Administrators say this tuition rate will lessen the impact on the student population, half of whom are the first in their family to attend college, and nearly 22 percent of whom come from underrepresented backgrounds - the highest number among the state regional universities. To keep an EWU education accessible to new and continuing students, Eastern has increased the level of financial aid provided to our students.
EWU President Rodolfo Arévalo and the BOT say the budget will allow the university to serve the record number of students seeking admission to Eastern's quality programs.
"We have been forced to make some difficult choices, but this budget is designed to protect instruction while keeping higher education affordable for our students," said Bertha Ortega, BOT Chair.
Because EWU has seen a 45 percent decline in state funding since 2008, President Arévalo has outlined an initiative to help Eastern navigate this challenging economic climate. His plan calls for the university to invest in the consolidation of academic support programs for students, the launching of an Eastern virtual campus and the expansion of Eastern's community engagement efforts.
"All of these investments are focused on improving the academic climate and creating greater opportunities for EWU students to be successful and reduce the amount of time it takes them to earn a degree," said Arévalo.
University leadership also notes that although Eastern's graduation and retention rates compare well with, or exceed, its peers nationally, EWU will continue to work to improve those numbers.
Highlights of the budget include:
• $224.3 million in operating funds for FY 2012, and $225.6 million for FY 2013 (totaling $449,962,843).
• In addition to the operating budget, the Board of Trustees approved a 2011-13 capital budget totaling $94,304,000. This includes $30.5 million for the continued renovation of Patterson Hall.
Although EWU and other state universities now have flexibility to set their own tuition rates, the 11 percent increase approved by Eastern's BOT was factored into the biennial operating budget created by the Legislature.
Eastern has already taken numerous steps to address the tight budget situation in recent years, including consolidating its colleges from six to four, reducing its administrative staff and adhering to the state freeze on hiring and travel.
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