OPBlog: Higher Ed Junction
On December 15, 2016, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance released its 2017 list of the top 300 “Best College Values.” Kiplinger’s ranks their top 100 public universities based on both in-state and out-of-state cost of attendance. The University of Washington was ranked #12 among public universities in value for in-state students and #24 among public universities in value for out-of-state students. This continues a history of high rankings for the UW. Over the past five years, the UW has ranked #17 or better for in-state state students, and #28 or better for out-of-state students, each year.
The calculations for Kiplinger’s rankings are based on quality criteria (which account for 55 percent of an institution’s overall ranking) and cost criteria (which account for the remaining 45 percent). Quality criteria include:
- Measures of competitiveness and selectivity (admission rate, percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll, and ACT and SAT scores of incoming freshman);
- Four-year graduation rate; and
- Measures of academic support (freshman retention rate and student-to-faculty ratio).
Cost criteria include:
- Total cost (including tuition and fees as well as books and room and board, with added points for “schools that reduce the price through need-based [grant] aid” or “knock down the price through non-need-based aid”) and
- Student indebtedness (students’ average debt at graduation and the percentage of students who borrow).
Because public institutions typically have different tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, Kiplinger’s provides two separate rankings. While the quality criteria used in both rankings are the same, only in-state students’ cost of attendance factors into the in-state ranking (and likewise for the out-of-state ranking).
As the Kiplinger’s ranking is based on selectiveness, academic outcomes, and cost, it should not be interpreted as either a “best colleges” list or a “most affordable” list. Among the top 10 public institutions for in-state students, for example, some institutions (e.g., College of William and Mary) are highly selective but more expensive, while others (e.g., University of Florida) have more inclusive admissions and lower four-year graduation rates but are more affordable.
For in-state students, the UW compares strongly with the highest-ranked public institutions on measures of affordability. For example, the UW’s cost of attendance for in-state students, after applying need-based aid, is $7,800 per year. The average cost among the top 10 in-state is 50 percent higher, at $11,700. UW students’ average debt at graduation is also lower, by about $2,000, than the average for top-10 institutions. Although the UW’s admit rate is higher and its four-year graduation rate is lower than some other top institutions’, its relative affordability contributes to a strong ranking (#12 in the nation) for in-state students.
The UW’s higher cost for out-of-state students contributes to an out-of-state ranking of #24. For out-of-state students, the UW’s cost of attendance after need-based aid ($31,800) is slightly higher than the average among top-10 institutions ($31,300).
More information about Kiplinger’s methodology is available on their website.
The Office of Planning & Budgeting has recently published new peer tuition comparisons for the 2016-17 academic year. The new tuition comparisons allow you to see UW tuition rates alongside those of peer institutions.
In the past, OPB has published tuition comparisons for Global Challenge State (GCS) peer institutions. However, more recently OPB has moved away from GCS peer comparisons toward comparisons based on the US News & World Report ranking of Top Public Schools. The 2017 US News ranking is available now (the UW is ranked #16 in the nation). The US News peer comparison group includes all public Research 1 (R1) universities ranked #25 or better; because of ties, and because not all top-25 universities are in the R1 category, there may be more or fewer than 25 institutions in this peer comparison group each year. (In order to make comparisons across time, historical averages are calculated based on the 2017 US News peer list, not the US News list current at the time.)
Comparisons include undergraduate, graduate, MBA, PharmD, law, medicine, and dentistry tuition rates for both resident and nonresident students. Most data are provided through the Association of American Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE). For peer institutions that are not part of AAUDE, we found tuition data on the universities’ websites.
For each tuition category, we provide a list of current tuition rates at each institution, along with a chart comparing UW tuition against the peer group average over the past 5 years. This allows you to look at both the UW’s current rates as well as recent trends, side by side with peers. For example, the UW’s resident undergraduate tuition rate is well below the peer average, partially due to tuition decreases in the last two years. Nonresident undergraduate tuition rates, on the other hand, have tracked closely with the peer average (remaining within 5% of the average over the past five years).
On Wednesday, Governor Inslee released his proposed 2017-19 biennial operating and capital budgets. For a detailed analysis and summary of the Governor’s proposals, please review the OPB brief.
The Governor’s ambitious spending plan relies on new revenue streams, including closing tax exemptions and establishing a new capital gains tax, to make significant investments in K-12 education, mental health, and homelessness. Funding for the UW would include salary increases for faculty and staff and additional enrollment capacity in the UW’s WWAMI medical education program.
The Governor would freeze resident undergraduate tuition across all public higher education institutions for two years, and would provide funding to cover the difference between the tuition freeze and incremental revenue expected under current policy. Finally, his plan would allocate $116 million to expand the State Need Grant Program to reduce the number of students who are currently eligible but unserved due to insufficient funding.
As a reminder, this budget release marks the first step of a lengthy budget process. Lawmakers in the Senate and the House will have the opportunity to release their own budget proposals over the course of the 2017 legislative session – set to begin on Monday, January 9, 2017.
Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates during the 2017 legislative session.
On Wednesday, the Washington state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released its November revenue forecast, which projected a slight increase to General Fund-State (GF-S) collections over the September revenue forecast. The GF-S revenue forecast increased by $215 million for the current 2015-17 biennium and $137 million for the 2017-19 biennium.
- Final GF-S revenue collections for the 2013-15 biennium were $33.666 billion.
- Total projected GF-S revenue for the 2015-17 biennium is now $37.980 billion, 12.8 percent more than the 2013-15 biennium.
- Total projected GF-S revenue for the 2017-19 biennium is now $40.514 billion, 6.7 percent more than the 2015-17 biennium.
- Total projected GF-S revenue for the 2019-21 biennium is now $43.656 billion, 7.8 percent more than the 2017-19 biennium.
Behind the numbers:
- The forecast attributes the higher projections due mainly to increases in retail sales tax and Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) collections.
- The forecast includes slightly stronger personal income and employment but lower housing permits.
- Concerns cited in the forecast include slow global and U.S. Economic Growth, weak labor productivity growth and uncertainty regarding fiscal and trade policy.
- Washington state employment is up by 13,500 net new jobs in September and October.
According to an article in the Tacoma News Tribune, this additional tax revenue will contribute to a 2017-19 state budget that is expected to be more than $40 billion. David Schumacher, Director of the Governor’s Office of Financial Management, stated that this increase in revenue “always helps, but it doesn’t solve the huge problems we’re facing.” One of the biggest problems Schumacher referred to is the Washington state Supreme Court’s mandate to increase K-12 education spending (McCleary v. State of Washington). While there is current debate about the estimated cost of complying with McCleary, the most commonly cited estimate is approximately $3.5 billion, and in Schumacher’s opinion “there’s broad agreement that we’re that neighborhood.”
Governor Jay Inslee will use this revenue forecast and estimates for complying with McCleary when crafting his state budget proposal, which will be released in mid-December in advance of the 2017 legislative session. Stay tuned to the OPBlog for updates on the Governor’s budget proposal when it is released.
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