With all of the emails going out about budget cuts, increases and tuition percentages it can sometimes be difficult to sort through it all and get the basic facts regarding exactly what amount of money the college needs from the students.
According to David Rule, Bellevue College president, there was a bill proposed by Senator Rodney Tom suggesting a 20% tuition hike for international students. Rule was the first to respond against the bill with the reasoning of international students already paying almost three times as much as in-state students in tuition fees. The bill was not even gained a hearing due to the negative attention received not just by BC, but other community and technical colleges as well. “It’s not over until it’s over,” said Rule on the topic of whether or not the bill would go into effect. Rule discussed the process in in which tuition increased and budget cuts occur.
According to Rule, March 17 is when the state will get a report on the social services such as the statistics on who is using food stamps, unemployment and welfare because all these services are mandatory expenditures for the state.
“These are the things that have to be funded. And that has an impact on the state’s budget. How much they have to spend,” said Rule. “Then the third date in March, is March 20. That’s when the next revenue forecast that the state budget writers will be using to draft the budget. That’s when the state economist all huddle in some dark room and do some sort of incantation over economic data to let the state legislature know if they believe state revenue will go up, or if it will be neutral, or if it will be going down.”
According to Rule, he and all the other presidents will be using the forecast provided on the twentieth that will drive a lot of the budget writing that happens in April, May and possibly June if they wrap everything up in time. “I think until we know the impact of the sequester, what does the social services expense look like and then on the twentieth what does taking all of that into accounts, what does the revenue forecast for the state of Washington is when the budget writers will really get into how legislature will deal with everything,” explains Rule. “I am aware about the tuition increases, I make sure to stay on top of the increases so that I can keep students informed, For example last week I found out about the 20% increase of tuition on international students that is looking to be conducted within the next year, also the average rate of increase is 4.3%, so currently the average cost for a student per year is $4364 and for nonresidents it is $9554, per year $17456 and $38216,” said Associated Student Government Vice President of Finance and Communications Dustin Boehlke.
The proposed 20% increase, while seemingly irrational, does have a semi-solid foundation. According to Thuy Ngoc Pham, organizing director for the Office of Student Legislative Affairs claims that “the reasoning is because international students do pay significantly more. However, they do not pay taxes, and have other resources like the GET Program.”
“Of course as a student and a student advocate I do not approve the tuition increases. To be real about the situation, I do not see many strong ways to attack this rising tuition. There are many rallies, but I have not seen them be very effective. The last one I attended started off with speeches from students about their stories. Unfortunately the only people listening were students. It was then followed by a dance party on the steps [of the capitol] which in my opinion has a negative effect and reflection on us as students.We then went in to voice are opinions to who we thought were our senators, as it would happen, the majority were out of the office. This has been a common trend for years as my girlfriend has noticed going to these rallies while being involved with student government,” said Boehlke when asked if he was a supporter of the increase, and what could be done by students and faculty to fight the increase. He also added what he does to personally fight the increase in tuition by educating students on the rising number of scholarships and grants,and ways to get involved with financial aid.
He said that “I have taken my own stands on the tuition increases. I have attended the rallies and I have help many students get federal grants and scholarships. I currently have a list that I hand out to all who asks that has a large number of scholarships that are easy to apply for and have a good award rate. I would also like to reach out to our veterans and invite them to meet with me in student programs. I take great pride in assisting veterans with job searches, financial aid and ensuring they get every scholarship and grant that they are applicable for.” When discussing what he does to the best of his abilities.
The responsibilities on increasing education, financial aid support and student representation does not reply just on the ASG or administration. It must come through all students regardless of whether they are affected by the tuition or not.