Washington State Institute for Public Policy
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December 2016
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) Board of Directors authorized a collaborative project with the MacArthur Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts to extend WSIPP’s benefit-cost analysis to higher education programs.

This report reviews the evidence on four types of interventions: 1) financial aid, 2) student advising, 3) interventions in the summer before college, and 4) dual enrollment.
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January 2016
The 2015 Washington State Legislature reduced public resident undergraduate tuition in 2015 and limited future tuition increases to no more than the average annual percentage growth in Washington’s median hourly wage. The legislature also directed WSIPP to examine how this median hourly wage “growth factor” will affect tuition at the state’s public colleges and universities and to study alternative metrics for limiting tuition increases. This report describes alternative tuition growth factors including hourly wages, total income, and inflation indices. We also discuss a potential growth factor related to student affordability as directed in legislation.

This report was revised in April 2016 to correct community and technical college tuition data.
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January 2014
Washington’s State Need Grant (SNG) program provides tuition assistance to low-income undergraduate students attending higher education institutions in the state. In the past ten years, state SNG expenditures more than doubled from $136 million in 2003 to $303 million in 2012. Last year (2012-13), about 74,000 students received an SNG (among 106,000 eligible students).

This report assesses the effectiveness of the SNG program in improving enrollment and degree completion outcomes. We find that for students with the lowest family incomes, receipt of State Need Grants is associated with higher re-enrollment and completion rates. Specifically, a 25% change in the SNG award amount would result in a 2 to 4 percentage point change in student re-enrollment and a 4 to 8 percentage point change in completion rates for the lowest income students.

The State Need Grant represents just one of several sources of financial aid that undergraduate students may receive. We examine the interactions between the SNG and other sources of aid and the relationship between overall aid and the student’s cost of attendance. SNG award amounts are based on a student’s family size and family income level. This report looks at how alternative awarding strategies may impact the number of students receiving a grant and the average value of those awards.
Download: Final Report
December 2012
Students who are state residents and have family incomes at or below 70% of the state’s median family income may receive a State Need Grant to pay for the costs of undergraduate tuition. During the 2011–12 academic year, nearly 75,000 students received this grant. In the last 10 years, state spending on this grant program has increased 120% (from $121 million in 2002–03 to $267 million in 2011–12). A sharp increase in the cost of tuition at undergraduate institutions coupled with a growing student population has led to this rise in program expenditures. While the program has historically been able to serve all students who qualify, in recent years, about 30,000 eligible students have been unable to receive a grant.

The 2012 Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to “determine whether the funding for the State Need Grant has been utilized in the most efficient way possible to maximize the enrollment and degree attainment of low-income students.” This report is the first of two detailed analyses on the characteristics and outcomes of State Need Grant students. Descriptive information in this report includes profiles of State Need Grant students, data related to college affordability, enrollment outcomes for State Need Grant students, and a comparison of need-based aid policies in selected states.

Our final report (due December 2013) will evaluate the impact of the State Need Grant program on enrollment and degree completion outcomes, after considering other factors related to student performance.
Download: Full Report
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December 2012
Washington State’s Passport to College Promise program (Passport) was created in 2007 to increase post-secondary educational outcomes for former foster youth. Passport consists of three components: 1) pre-college preparation provided to high school-age foster youth; 2) a scholarship for former foster youth attending eligible in-state schools; and 3) academic and support services from Designated Support Staff at participating colleges.

Washington is one of only two states that provide these kinds of “wraparound” services in addition to financial aid for former foster youth attending college. In this evaluation of the program, we compared outcomes for Passport students relative to common college performance benchmarks: retention, persistence, and completion. About two-thirds of Passport students remained enrolled for more than six months during their first year. These students had retention and completion outcomes similar to other (non-foster) students. Several recommendations for program improvement are also provided based on interviews with program staff and a review of available data.
Download: Full Report
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November 2008
The Washington State Institute for Public Policy contracted with Berk & Associates to conduct a study of adult literacy rates and programs in Washington State, in response to a 2008 legislative directive “to study the status of adult literacy education in Washington.” The study includes “an analysis of literacy rates by county; a review of the research literature; a description of literacy-related services provided by state agencies and community-based organizations; and an analysis of characteristics of persons receiving those services."
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December 2004
Washington’s alternative routes to teacher certification were created by the 2001 Legislature. These routes provide an avenue—other than enrolling in a teacher training program at a college or university—for professionals in other fields and classified school staff to become teachers. The Legislature directed the Institute to evaluate the programs created by the law. This final report describes the initial programs as established in 2002–03, outlines major changes that have occurred in the intervening two years, and looks at how well the programs met the legislative objectives.

In-depth descriptions of the individual programs and responses to surveys are published separately in the appendix.
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February 2004
In 2001, the Washington State Legislature adopted recommendations from the Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) and created three alternative routes to certification for prospective teachers in Washington. The legislation directed the Institute to evaluate the programs and produce a final report by December 2004. This update describes the evaluation steps undertaken in 2003 and plans for 2004.
Download: Full Report
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August 2003
The interim report on branch campuses concluded that Washington's five upper division branch campuses are operating as intended by the 1989 Legislature. There are, however, internal and external pressures for branch campuses to evolve into more traditional, four-year research universities. This final report describes those pressures and identifies potential courses of action to guide the campuses' future development. Costs associated with Washington's branch campuses are also analyzed.
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December 2002
The 2002 Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (Institute) to review the mission and operations of the HECB and evaluate its role and practices in policy setting, evaluation, review, and approval of higher education programs and budgets and administration of financial aid programs. This report is divided into two parts. Part I examines stakeholders' views regarding the role and functioning of the HECB. The in-person and telephone interviews focused on the statutory roles of the HECB and on the external and internal factors that influence the agency's effectiveness. Part II describes the evolution of higher education coordination in Washington State and the current role and authority of the HECB. It also examines governance options from other states and an emerging approach to coordinating higher education.
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110 FIFTH AVENUE SE, SUITE 214
P O BOX 40999
OLYMPIA, WA 98504
 
360.664.9800
institute@wsipp.wa.gov