Governor wants more private funding for public universities

Jan 3, 2011

Governor Chris Gregoire says she has a plan to make higher ed funding more stable and boost the number of students who earn degrees, but it could be a long shot.

The governor's plan would let schools decide when to increase tuition and by how much.  She says colleges and universities know best what they’re worth. 

“So, why not allow them the discretion," says Gregoire. "So when we get into a difficult time like we find ourselves in now, we don’t have to go through what we’ve gone through the last two years and what we’ll go through the next two years, which is debating do we compromise quality or do we shut our doors.”

Right now, setting tuition is up to the legislature, as is whether to change that role.  Last year, lawmakers let a similar plan die.  And that time, the proposal was only temporary.  Now Gregoire wants schools to have permanent control.   

For families who worry a college degree will become unattainable, Gregoire has some balances in mind and hopes for some checks.  That is, money from wealthy individuals and businesses. 

She would create an endowment that would fund "Washington Pledge Scholarships" for low and middle income students.  The goal is to raise $1 billion.  So far, no one has committed to making a pledge when the program gets underway.