FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2013
Contact: Cynara Lilly 206.915.7821
New Washington State poll finds overwhelming support for higher education:
Majority want funding increased
Voters clearly draw connection between access to higher education
and jobs, economic growth, future of state
Olympia–Voters in Washington state overwhelmingly support public higher education and want to see funding for our colleges and universities increased, according to a new poll conducted earlier this month. The survey clearly indicates that support for higher education in Washington State is high, and that residents have a strong connection to our state’s colleges and universities, viewing them as important parts of their communities and a key to future economic success and stability.
"What this research shows us is that voters clearly and deeply understand the connection between access to quality higher education and economic success for their families,” said Bill Lyne with Western Advocates & President, United Faculty of Washington State.
"Our colleges and universities are the clear link towards stable jobs for many Washington families, especially for the middle class and the role that they play in our economic vitality cannot be overlooked."
The poll was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates and found that Washington voters believe that a strong system of public colleges and universities will have important benefits for the state’s students, its economy, and its overall quality of life, tying higher education to getting good jobs, economic growth and producing well-rounded, informed citizens. Voters also believe it is important that financial means should not limit access to higher education, and strongly support existing state programs to make college more affordable, such as Washington’s College Bound Scholarship and Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program.
Polling highlighted the following findings:
· Voters know there is a problem. Voters generally recognize that Washington’s public colleges and universities have experienced budget cuts and that additional funding is needed.
· Funding to higher education should be increased. In fact, when informed of recent budget cuts, most Washington voters want funding for higher education increased. A majority (53%) of voters want state funding on higher education in Washington state increased after hearing a brief summary of recent cuts. Nearly one-quarter (23%) feel that funding should be increased a “great deal.” This is coupled with an additional 35% who do not favor cuts.
· Legislators’ actions on higher education matter. Voters indicate that they would take a favorable view of a state legislator who advocated for increased funding for higher education. Almost two-thirds of Washington voters (64%) would take a more favorable view of a state legislator who advocated for increased higher education funding, while only one-third as many (22%) would view them less favorably.
· Programs that help students go to school are critical. Voters overwhelmingly support two state programs targeted to making higher education more affordable – the College Bound Scholarship and the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program. After being provided brief background information about both programs, more than four in five voters expressed support state funding for the College Bound Scholarship (87%) and GET (81%).
· Voters have close personal connections to Washington’s public colleges and universities. The survey results found that not only do voters live near public colleges and universities – 61 percent indicated they live within five miles of one – but most have either attended a public college or university in Washington or have a family member who has.
About the Coalition:
College Promise Coalition is an unprecedented partnership that brings together advocates for Washington colleges and universities, alongside students, parents, faculty, alumni, education advocates and leaders in business and labor, in order to urge the legislature to make higher education a top priority in our state. Founded in 2011 to address dramatic cuts to higher education funding, the coalition is entering its third year of fighting to ensure that access to an affordable, quality education remains an option for all Washington families and kids.
· Washington State Ranks last in the nation in dollars spent per student.*
· Since 2007, Washington’s baccalaureate programs have seen cuts in state funding of nearly 50%. Community and Technical Colleges have seen similar slashes to their funding.*
· These state funding cuts have caused rapid increases in tuition for students. In 2000, the state paid for 71% of each student’s education, with 29% coming from tuition. Today those numbers have flipped–and tuition accounts for 67% of the price educating each student, making obtaining a college degree more and more difficult for middle class families. *
· The threat is especially dangerous for middle class families who are watching tuition levels rise and access diminish due to the statewide cuts.
· Nearly 32,000 students enrolled state colleges and universities are eligible for a State Need Grant but did not get one because state funding ran out. The majority of these students – about 21,000 – are in two-year colleges. **
* Source: State Higher Education Finance FY 2011, State Higher Education Executive Officer
** Source: State Board of Community and Technical Colleges LINK