Tuition cuts at state universities has been a surprising success

Imagine that. Surprise, surprise! 

A year ago, Washington became the first state to substantially lower tuition since the recession. The Legislature poured nearly $160 million directly into the coffers of colleges and universities and capped how much they are allowed to charge students.

Some called it a “historic” effort to pull skyrocketing tuition rates back to earth. Nationwide, student loan debt has more than tripled in the past two decades, surpassing credit card debt in 2010, auto loans in 2011 and passing the $1 trillion mark in 2012, according to Mark Kantrowitz, a leading expert on student finances.

The reductions take full effect this fall, and despite initial concerns about the new funding model, students and administrators say the policy has been a resounding success.

“We’re tickled pink,” said Joan King, WSU’s chief financial officer. “We’ve never seen a tuition decrease before. We’re very happy with the way it worked.”