This issue of WICHE Insights, Tuition and Fees, Appropriations, and Financial Aid in the West: Strategic Alignment in Time of Uncertainty, discusses the results of WICHE’s annual survey of tuition and fees up through 2019-20 in public higher education in the WICHE region, recent trends in state appropriations and fiscal support, and state grant aid programs and situates these trends in a discussion of affordability efforts in the West. And while the financial implications of the COVID-19 crisis present a bleak economic outlook, this WICHE Insights highlights the importance of strategic alignment of appropriations, tuition, and financial aid in advancing affordability under severe fiscal constraints. Key takeaways from the Insights include:
- Regional average tuition and fees for resident undergraduates at public four-year institutions were $9,759 in 2019-20, a 2.1 percent increase from 2018-19.
- Regional average in-district tuition and fees at two-year institutions increased 3.1 percent from 2018-19 to $4,025 in 2019-20.
- Regional average appropriations per student increased 4.8 percent between FY 2018 and FY 2019, a higher rate of increase than the national average.
- State financial aid per student was slightly lower than the national average in 2017-18, but the share of need-based aid was well above the national average.
- States undertook efforts to address affordability but face data limitations for assessing affordability.
- The dismal economic outlook as a result of the COVID-19 crisis makes it imperative that states strategically align state finance policies to address affordability.