In early October, President Purce joined the presidents of the other five, public baccalaureate institutions to testify before the Senate Higher Education Committee regarding the impact of budget reductions on Evergreen’s operating budget.
President Purce emphasized the commitment of Evergreen to current students and the Legislature’s instructions to preserve access and maintain to the extent possible the educational experience. He highlighted the investment in financial aid, withholding 20% of tuition increases for institutional financial aid; minimization of impacts on student employment; and the expansion of enrollment.
Despite this, the bottom line for Evergreen is an unsustainable one, stated President Purce. Evergreen’s tuition increased by 14% per year for undergraduate resident students. The College’s budget was cut 8%, primarily in non-instructional areas (i.e. student services, facilities). And increased retention – a good thing- has led to an estimated over-enrollment of 5%.
Perhaps what is most concerning is what lies ahead. The fiscal realities, pressures for access, and risks to quality of education and affordability Washington experienced last year are not a thing of the past.
With all this said, President Purce concluded with the following. Evergreen believes that it is time to link conversations about the immediate concern of balancing budgets with the long-term funding and policy needs identified in the state’s strategic plan for higher education.
The Evergreen State College welcomes the opportunity to work with the Legislature to find ways to respond to the large and complex policy issues facing our state and our sector.