Who we are: The College Promise Coalition

The College Promise Coalition is an unprecedented partnership that brings together advocates for Washington colleges and universities, alongside students, parents, faculty, alumni, education advocates and leaders in business and labor, in order to urge the legislature to make higher education a top priority in our state. Founded in 2011 to address dramatic cuts to higher education funding, the coalition is entering its fourth year of fighting to ensure that access to an affordable, quality education remains an option for all Washington families and kids.

A system in crisis: The facts

Since 2007, Washington’s baccalaureate programs have seen cuts in state funding of nearly 50%. Community and Technical Schools have seen similar slashes to their funding. Those cuts are part of a pattern in disinvestment in higher education that threatens to compromise the quality of higher education provided in Washington State and is already limiting access to higher education for many. In 2000, the state paid for 71% of each student’s education, with 29% coming from tuition. Today those numbers have flipped--and tuition accounts for 67% of the price educating each student, making obtaining a college degree more and more difficult for middle class families. Yet the evidence is clear that a college education is a critical component of lifetime success and a well educated workforce is the key to prosperity in the 21st century. Four decades ago, one in four jobs required education beyond high school. In the next five years, nearly two-thirds of jobs will require some education beyond high school. Having a skilled and educated workforce is an essential economic driver for our state, we need to make sure that all Washington students have a chance at a college education – all of our futures depend on it.

Our priorities:

Cradle to College investments: Investments in education should be made holistically across the entire education system – early learning, K-12 and higher education system. Having a strong college and university system is critical to providing Washington students with the skills they need for today’s economy.

Preparing for the jobs of the future: The increased cost of higher education, along with steep budget cuts in the past six years have meant fewer opportunities for Washington students. We must not only just increase the availability of higher education for our students, but also focus on ensuring that our children have access to programs that prepare them for the jobs of the future. This includes an increased emphasis on access to technical and professional training in high demand fields such as health care, aerospace and high tech as well as engineering and computer science degrees.

Increasing access: We must continue to invest in financial aid programs such as our State Need Grant and the College Bound program. For many low income, minority, first generation and otherwise underrepresented students, these programs put college within reach. Funding student aid is a crucial part of supporting quality, affordable higher education in Washington State and is essential to keeping college accessible for everyone who wishes to attain a higher education.

Developing a stable future:  If we are going to continue to compete nationally and globally, and deliver on our constitutional duty to the kids of Washington, it is time to increase funding for our colleges and universities. CPC understands that the legislators in Olympia face difficult choices, but defunding higher education is shortsighted and will undermine the long-term economic vitality of our state.