Although it is almost impossible to imagine today, there was a time when Washington State University students could work full-time over the summer and pay for a year’s in-state tuition, books, and room and board. Obviously, that has not been the case for a good long while. In fact, most recent graduates leave the institution with a sizeable debt load no matter how hard they work over the summer and during the school year.
Over the past four years, the university has experienced a net state appropriated budget reduction of 52 percent, or $231 million. The majority of that has been addressed through dramatic cuts in programs, faculty, and staff. But a sizeable portion has been borne by our students. In-state students have seen double-digit increases in their tuition for each of the past four years; this semester, tuition alone for resident Washingtonian undergraduates is $9,676.
These factors especially impact students in CAHNRS. Many of our students come from the rural regions of the state or from middle-class families who may or may not have the wherewithal to send their children to college. As CAHNRS Associate Dean Kim Kidwell says, “They are not the ‘silver spooners.’”
For these reasons and many more, scholarships are becoming more and more critical. For some students, a scholarship means the difference between attending school or not. For others, it means working just one job while going to school instead of two. For still others, it means making themselves more competitive in a global market by enriching their degree with an internship at home or abroad.
As a college, we have always enjoyed strong support in this area – our donors understand the value of providing a hand-up. The Campaign for Washington State gives us an opportunity to shore up and expand scholarship support.
We are launching our scholarship campaign this spring with a variety of activities. Several members of the CAHNRS National Campaign Committee already have volunteered to host local events that gather potential donors to hear how scholarship dollars literally can change lives. We also are conducting video interviews with current scholarship recipients to capture their stories about the difference donor dollars make. We’ve regionalized the scholarship campaign to allow our development officers to leverage the most from their ongoing travels around the state. Kim Kidwell has agreed to help lead our efforts. These are all critical steps in the right direction.
Our goal is ambitious. We want to raise $30 million during the course of the campaign to develop a comprehensive scholarship fund for the college. That fund will include traditional undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, internal and external internships and international internships. With laser focus, hard work and heartfelt commitment, we can – working together – reach that goal.
Of all that we do, investing in our students is one of the most direct ways to invest in our collective future.