2015-2017 Budget Update

The WSA has always advocated for affordable tuition; the best form of financial aid is low tuition. Thus, the WSA congratulates the work of student lobbying in securing the first tuition reduction in decades for the 2016 and 2017 school years.

Details include: 
5% tuition cut for every community college and public university for 2016.

For 2017:
15% tuition reduction for University of Washington and Washington State University
20% tuition reduction for all regional schools
5% tuition reduction continues for all community colleges.

The Board of Directors is also cognizant of potential impacts to students with the combined decrease in State Need Grant funding. The WSA plans to monitor both access and affordability closely in the coming year to asses student experiences with the reduction.

For a full statement, please click here

WSA has opposed relentless efforts to remove public accountability to the cost of college by releasing control of tuition setting to local boards of trustees or regents. Disinvestment in public higher education has accelerated in recent years as a result of the drastic cuts imposed by the Legislature. On many occasions, the WSA has influenced the Legislature to reduce administrative and legislative proposals for larger increases in tuition and more long-lasting tuition increases.

  • In the 2007 legislative session, the WSA was successful in temporarily capping tuition increases at 7% for what was thought to be the next decade.
  • In the 2009 session, the Legislature proposed removing the cap permanently in light of the economic crisis. The WSA fought back and limited increases beyond 7% for the next two years. 
  • In 2012, the WSA helped ensure a zero-cuts budget to Higher Ed, the first no-cuts budget in almost a decade. While the tuition increases for that school year had already been set the year before, the zero-cuts budget helped to ensure that there was no need for any higher tuition increases. 
  • First in 2013 and renewed in 2014, the WSA secured a tuition freeze for all Washington State public colleges and universities. This had been the first time in 30 years there has not been a tuition increase in Washington State. 

Financial Aid


The WSA has consistently advocated for financial aid support by the state and federal government that keeps pace with tuition increases.
  • The WSA succeeded in the getting Graduate Fellowship Program created and funded, fought merit-based requirements for State Need Grant eligibility, and helped create the collegiate license plate scholarship funds.
  • Every year we work with legislators to create a budget that ensures the State Need Grant sees no cuts and stays as close to increases in tuition as possible. In 2014, an additional 5 million dollars was added to the State Need Grant. 

Textbooks and Course Materials

The WSA has passed numerous bills over it's 30 year history to curb the rising cost of textbooks and hold textbook companies accountable for ensuring affordability to students.

  • Most notably, the WSA worked to pass legislation in the sessions of 2006, 2007, and 2009 to ban textbook bundling (textbook companies used to make you buy multiple books together), price disclosure to faculty so that faculty can be aware of how much they're asking their students to spend for their class in textbook costs, and cost-consideration requirements for bookstores, publishers, and faculty.

Student Representation

Sometimes obtaining a seat at the table is half the battle. Stu dent participation and input in a number of task forces, blue ribbon committees, and other work groups has also often been driven by the WSA.

  • In 1998, after the WSA and its predecessors had been advocating for 17 years, the Legislature approved the creation of the governor-appointed "Student Regent/Trustee" position that is in place today.
  • In the 2008 session the WSA began the next step in advocating for student representation for community and technical college students to have a voice and a vote on their Boards of Trustees. 
  • In the 2012 legislative session, the WSA then won legislation to place voting rights for students on the Board of Trustees for all Community and Technical Colleges. Now, there are no public colleges in Washington that can't have student representation on the largest governing boards.
  • The WSA has also successfully advocated for a student member on the Higher Education Coordinating Board (HECB) - appointed by the Governor. The WSA also ensured that the replacement of the HECB, The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), had a student representative.

Equitable Access

The WSA has worked to ensure that students who are the children of undocumented immigrants retain access to higher education and financial aid, and are not punished for the status of their parents. Furthermore, the WSA worked against Initiative 200, fought for increased access for under-represented populations in higher education institutions, and testified for enhanced recruitment and retention of minority faculty, staff, and students.

  • Since 2007 the WSA has worked nationally with the United States Student Association to pass the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to citizenship for those children of undocumented parents through a college education.
  • In 2012, the WSA made the Washington DREAM Act a legislative priority and brought in testimony and worked alongside the Washington DREAM Act Coalition and One America to ensure the passage of the bill. 
  • In 2014, the WSA co-lead the statewide coalition with One America to advocate for the DREAM Act again. The DREAM/Real Hope Act passed, giving undocumented students access to apply for state aid and adding an additional 5 million dollars to the State Need Grant.  

Veterans Accessibility

The WSA has fought and one several bills that ensured student veterans had as much acess as possible to classes, financial aid counseling, easy acess to services on campus, and more. 

  • In the 2012 legislative session, the WSA ensured early class registration for all Student Veterans, as well as in-state tuition for active military moved into Washington. 
  • In 2014, the WSA secured academic credit for certain types of military experience. In addition, WSA was successful in eliminating the one year waiting period for veterans to access in-state tuition in Washington State. 

Child Care

The WSA has historically been the only organization who consistently fights for affordable childcare on campuses since the 1980’s and has won incremental victories, such as establishing a competitive Student Parent Child Care grant to help support the creation or expansion of campus childcare programs.

  • In 2008 the WSA succeeded in promoting legislation that redesigned the program into a matching grant to stabilize funding for campus childcare facilities and operations and has been working to expand the State’s matching funds.
  • The program was suspended during the 2010 Supplemental Session, but despite the dire budget crisis the WSA concerted advocacy efforts and had it restored funding in the 2011 Session.

Student Fees

  • In the mid-1990’s the WSA was the principal advocate for the legal requirement that students must have majority representation in the assessment and distribution of student fees, thus creating modern "Student Activities Fee Committees."

  • In the 2009 legislative session the WSA won another victory for student control of fees by allowing students the to reduce, increase, or create voluntary fees by a majority vote of the student body.


Contracts with transit systems for bus passes, circulator bus routes on campuses, routes between areas of concentrated student housing and campuses, student discounts, and improved parking are all subjects influenced to the benefit of students by the WSA.

Campus Safety

  • The WSA led the charge to install "Blue Light" alarms on campuses for emergency situations and helped establish campus safety task forces to ensure the effectiveness of student safety programs.
  • In 2001, the WSA was part of a successful effort to protect the Social Security Numbers of students, which administrations had used as student identification numbers.
  • The WSA helped pass legislation that regulated the marketing of credit cards and related materials to students in a way that best protected the privacy of personal student information.

Living Standards

  • Healthcare, campus safety, and consumer privacy have all been positively impacted by WSA diligence.
  • The WSA is responsible for the meningitis notification legislation, instating a minimum wage for students, and expanding teaching assistant (TA) and resident advisor (RA) health benefit coverage to graduate and professional students.
  • The WSA also supported legislation allowing competition between campus food services and vendors.

Capitol Projects

The WSA has advocated on a biennial basis for the efficient use of existing campus buildings and for prioritization of new projects based on student needs. Furthermore, the WSA has been vocal about which projects are the highest priorities for the quality of education of Washington students.

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