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Jul 01, 2015 10:29 AM EDT

Washington State Legislature Will Lower Public University Tuition Up to 20 Percent

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In a move uncommon for today's financial climate, the Washington State Legislature decided to decrease public university tuition up to 20 percent.

According to the Associated Press, Washington is aiming for its tuition decrease to set a precedent at more public school systems in the nation. Since the nation's recession hit, Minnesota has been the only state to lower tuition at public schools, but that cut was one percent and only applied to community colleges.

Like the University of California system, most states have either increased or frozen tuition at their public colleges. On Monday, the Washington Legislature approved a ruling that would lower tuition at public four-year institutions by 15 to 20 percent over the next two years.

"Tuition rollbacks are very rare. It will be interesting to see if other states follow Washington's lead," Thomas L. Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, told the AP. "The key question is whether this is a short-term or long-term commitment to college affordability."

An education policy specialist at the National Council of State Legislatures, Dustin Weeden also called Washington's ruling unique given the times.

"Tuition freezes are much more common," he told the AP. "You'd have to go back before the recession to find any other examples."

Washington's average debt for student loan holders is $25,000, which is in line with the national average, if not a bit lower. The decision to cut tuition seems to be a way to further lower that figure.

"Lowering tuition is a great step in providing crucial relief to American families," Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) told the AP. "We think it has great economic impacts going forward."

(Source: Associated Press)

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