College costs alter dreams when dorm halls upset family budget

OLYMPIA — For Maureen Lutz and her daughter, Lauren, 18, hard work paid off in an acceptance letter from the University of Washington in May.

However, this month the Lutzes had to make a difficult decision — Lauren had to withdraw from the University of Washington because the Olympia family couldn’t afford $9,000 for the residence halls.

Maureen Lutz said the family spent the summer searching for money to afford the residence halls, and the decision to withdraw was difficult. She was also taken aback to learn that the University of Washington will send a $400 bill because the Lutzes withdrew the application.

"It's already bad that we've had to cancel because we can't afford it," Maureen Lutz said. "But to make things worse, to say, 'Too bad, you’ll have to pay us anyway.’"

The family isn't alone in confronting the costs of college.

The University of Washington and Saint Martin's University have both seen an increase in the number of students who are appealing for more financial aid. The Evergreen State College's financial aid office has not seen similar increases in financial appeals and does not know how many students are not attending because of finances, according to college spokesman Jason Wettstein.

However, the financial aid officials couldn't say with certainty if students need more aid because of the effect of a bad economy on family finances or increases in tuition — or both.

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