Last year, the Washington Legislature authorized state universities to increase tuition up to 7 percent per year for resident undergraduates. This year, Senate Bill 6133 is looking to help ease students' tuition burden.
Joe Fortunato, a senior communication major, has been working on the bill since last February when he ran for ASWSU president.
"It came up in the campaign last year when a student asked what I could do about tuition," Fortunato said. "However, I've only been working on it this past week during this school year. Senator Roach called and I started working on it again."
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, has been sponsoring the bill since it came back to the attention of the Senate Higher Education Committee earlier this week.
If passed, the bill would limit the ability of public universities to raise tuition for existing students above the annual rate of inflation. This would essentially keep the tuition price for an incoming class the same throughout those students' college careers.
"I think it's a great idea and several other states have already put similar bills into law," Roach said. "There are three categories of students. There are children of the wealthy who tuition isn't really an issue for. There are children from low-income families that receive a lot of need-based aid such as the Pell Grant. There is also students from middle-class homes that are exactly that, in the middle. This bill is designed to help them."
The committee for higher education had a hearing on the bill Thursday morning.
Fortunato said all six major state universities testified against the bill, saying that they didn't want to deal with the logistics of keeping track of the different prices for different classes.
"If people are interested in helping, they need to call the committee, specifically Paull Shin," Roach said. "It takes about five phone calls to get a bill noticed, about 10 calls to get the legislator to find out what the bill is about, and 15 calls to get a likely vote for a bill."
If students are interested in supporting this bill, they can call the Senate Committee for Higher Education hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
© 2008 Daily Evergreen via U-WIRE