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Originally published Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 11:01 PM

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UW likely to end waiver for out-of-state grad students

A tuition waiver that made the University of Washington's graduate programs more affordable to some out-of-state students is expected to be eliminated when the UW's Board of Regents meets Thursday.

Seattle Times higher education reporter

A tuition waiver that made the University of Washington's graduate programs more affordable to some out-of-state students is expected to be eliminated when the UW's Board of Regents meets Thursday.

The waiver allowed about 360 out-of-state graduate students to qualify for in-state tuition after a year. But it's turned out to be more expensive than expected, and budget-tightening has forced the proposed change.

When first approved in 2005, the university expected the waiver to cost about $1 million a year in lost tuition, but this year it is estimated it will cost the school $4.6 million, said Gerald Baldasty, graduate-school dean.

Baldasty said the tuition waiver being considered affects only out-of-state students who pay their own tuition — about 2.5 percent of the university's graduate and professional students. It doesn't apply to tuition waivers granted to teaching assistants, research assistants, or students with fellowships or on training grants.

When it was first adopted, the school hoped the waiver would be a recruiting incentive, but it's not clear if the waiver has had that effect, Baldasty said. Under the proposal, the waiver would end after 2012, and no students now enrolled will be affected.

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) has been trying to find a compromise. "Even in tight budget times, we should be providing incentives to go to the UW" for diverse and highly qualified students, said Sarah Reyneveld, president of the GPSS.

Baldasty said the university is working on a plan that would create about 50 fellowships, allowing out-of-state students who receive them to pay in-state tuition. "So we will still have the ability to recruit great students, but it won't be a drain," he said.

Students who agree to work with underrepresented populations after they graduate would qualify for the fellowship, he said.

Rob Jones, a second-year medical student from North Carolina who qualified for the waiver this year, said the fellowship program is a good compromise.

He said he was drawn to the UW because its medical school is top-ranked for primary care, family medicine and rural medicine. As a minority student — Jones is African American — he was offered scholarships from other medical schools, but chose the UW because "I placed the value of the education over the money," he said, and the waiver helped make the UW more affordable.

During an October meeting, one Board of Regents member said it was unfortunate the university had to give up the tuition waivers. "I don't like the decisions we're forced to make, and I'm glad these students are here," said regent Craig Cole. "But the state has defunded higher education by about a third, and something has to give."

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. in the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering on campus.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or klong@seattletimes.com

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