Washington is one of the few states with a recent increase in general operating allocations as a percent of all support. This change is primarily due to a statewide tuition rate decrease in 2016 and 2017, during which tuition rates declined by 5 percent at Washington community colleges and between 15 and 20 percent at four-year institutions. To pay for the tuition reduction, the state appropriated a more than $200 million increase in general operating support and reduced financial aid funding to public institutions.
W.A. Legis. S.B. 5954. 3rd Special Session 2015. http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/5954-S.SL.pdf?q=20200225085531
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These funding shifts resulted in a 3.5 percentage point increase in the portion of funding going to general operations.
This change in the uses of state funding is expected to revert in the coming years, at least partially. In 2019, Washington enacted a significant overhaul of the state’s need-based aid program to ensure all eligible students will receive grants. State financial aid appropriations are expected to increase significantly in the coming years.