More families will be able to afford a school their kids can’t get into. And this solves the problem how?
Washington simply has not kept up with demand for slots at our state colleges and universities, and keeping tuition below market rates while refusing to provide sufficient state funding to make up the difference is not going to help anybody. Exporting college students is not a long term economically sustainable policy; we will over time lose many of our best and brightest to regions with better and more plentiful public and private university systems.
Of course we could as a state rededicate ourselves to investing in human capital, sinking billions more each year into higher education… but that would require raising taxes, so it ain’t likely to happen anytime soon. The alternative then, is to change the way we subsidize colleges and universities, moving away from our per-student subsidy to one based on financial need.
Under such a model, tuition would be allowed to rise closer toward market rates, with much more of the full cost of one’s education reflected in the actual price. Then the state subsidy, which is now spread somewhat evenly amongst all students, would be funneled into an aggressive and generous financial aid program.
Those families who could afford to pay the full price of educating their children would do so. The rest would get financial aid in the form of grants on a sliding scale based on ability to pay. Such a system, if executed properly, would pump more revenue into our colleges and universities and fund more slots, while keeping college affordable for lower and middle income families.
Or.. we could continue to make it harder for WA students to get a quality education, regardless of ability to pay.