BELLINGHAM - For the first time in nearly 30 years, most students at Western Washington University won't see their tuition go up when the next school year begins.
The WWU Board of Trustees approved a more than $145 million operating budget for the school that included no tuition increases for resident undergrads - who make up 88 percent of students and pay about $7,500 for tuition - at its meeting Thursday, July 18.
The budget also includes new money from the Legislature for the university to expand high-demand areas such as engineering, computer science and energy studies. Nearly $3 million will allow for more computer science graduates each year and will allow the university to transition to a full engineering program.
"I'm very pleased," WWU President Bruce Shepard said. "This allows the university to take our strengths and apply them to the critical needs of the state and to do so without having to raise tuition."
The university last froze tuition in the mid-1980s, spokesman Paul Cocke said, and while some of the tuition increases since then were small, in recent years they've been in the double digits due to state budget cuts.
The tuition freeze won't apply to out-of-state students, graduate students or MBA students, who will have a 3 percent increase in their tuition for next year.
The tuition freeze for in-state undergrads at public universities was part of the state budget. Schools will have the option to raise tuition next year, but if they do, they'll have to set aside some of that tuition money to provide financial aid. The board didn't rule out a tuition increase for 2014-15.
The board also approved a capital budget of nearly $30 million for 2013-15, including about $4.7 million in classroom and lab upgrades, nearly $3 million to upgrade the exterior and roof of the Performing Arts Center, $7.5 million for preservation projects throughout the campus and almost $3.6 million for utility upgrades on the north campus.