UW Faces $47 Million Drop in State Funds; Tuition to Rise 7 Percent

Faced with a $2.65 billion deficit in its 2003-05 budget, the state Legislature passed a plan in June that includes a $47 million cut for the UW, no new enrollments and a 7 percent hike for in-state undergraduate tuition.

Total state support for the UW in the next two years will amount to $631.2 million, which officials estimate covers 16 percent of total UW expenditures. Other major sources of UW income include patient fees, research grants and contracts, private gifts, tuition and auxiliary enterprises.

Acting Provost David Thorud, the UW's chief budget officer, says that academic units will face a 3-percent cut in their instructional budgets for 2003-04. "The numbers were better than we had feared but less than we had hoped," he says. UW units had been planning for a 5-percent cut.

We will have fewer TAs, larger classes and some high demand courses will fill up too quickly.

The decline in state support will have some serious impacts, Thorud warns. The College of Arts and Sciences estimates it will offer 124 fewer courses in the new academic year and will lose at least 50 faculty positions, mostly through attrition. Other UW schools and colleges will also be hit with cuts.

"It's going to be a continuing challenge," Thorud says. "We will have fewer TAs, larger classes and some high demand courses will fill up too quickly."

All students will be paying more. Resident undergraduate tuition will rise from $4,167 last year to $4,458 in 2003-04. Non-resident undergraduates will pay $15,611 in the coming academic year. In professional programs such as business and law, tuition will climb 20 to 33 percent.

The UW will use 7 percent of the tuition increase for additional financial aid for undergraduates.

"Even though we have fewer resources, we are not going to give up on a quality educational experience for our undergraduates," the acting provost says. The UW plans to invest $900,000 in new programs and technologies to teach more efficiently and to provide even better learning opportunities for its students.

For example, some of the funds may be used to keep labs, study areas and even theaters open 24 hours a day so that students working on group projects can take full advantage of campus facilities. Some arts and sciences professors plan to digitize their learning materials so that students can access them anytime on the Web. Instead of a class with 16 TAs, students might see a class with four TAs and a Webmaster.

The UW plans to invest $900,000 in new programs and technologies to teach more efficiently and to provide even better learning opportunities for its students.

"We may have continuing erosion of state support. We have to get real smart about how we teach," Thorud says.

The state did not fund cost-of-living increases for most higher education employees. By shifting its resources, the UW was able to give its faculty, librarians, professional staff and TAs an average 2 percent pay raise on Aug. 1. This is the first increase these groups have had in two years. "You have to be able to retain and recruit top-notch faculty," Thorud says. "It is an important message to send to the faculty."

In addition, the state budget gives the UW $4.6 million over two years for recruitment and retention of top professors.

The state did not fund additional enrollments at the UW, although it did create a pool of new enrollments to be divided among four-year institutions. These new enrollments target high demand majors such as nursing and computer science. There are also extra funds to admit more transfer students.

With high school seniors in Washington state graduating in record numbers, there will be more demand on the limited number of places for new students at all three UW campuses. "It is a major challenge for this state as well as for the University," Thorud concedes. "A lot of parents are going to be concerned about this."

But with the UW already 30.7 percent behind its peers in state funding per-student, the UW can't continue to enroll more students without additional state dollars. "We don't want to thin the soup," he says.

The UW did somewhat better in the capital budget, which adds $122 million in new projects. The UW's most pressing need is the renewal of buildings on the Seattle campus (see "Inside Out," March 2003). The highest priority, a $50 million renovation of Johnson Hall, was fully funded and the project begins this fall. Design money for the renovation of Guggenheim and Architecture Halls was also approved, as was the renovation of the Health Sciences Center H Wing.

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