CWU News

CWU offers tuition waivers to students displaced by wildfires

Central Washington University is giving $1,000 in tuition waivers to students whose families have been displaced by fires in north central Washington. The move will help about 300 current and incoming students.
CWU president James L. Gaudino said reducing families' tuition burden is one way the university can help them cope with the fire disaster. CWU has been at the center of wildfire emergencies enough times to know the fear and the hardship it imposes on communities, he said.
"Wildfire of this magnitude is life-changing for businesses, for local government, for schools—and especially for families," Gaudino said. "As families struggle to deal with the losses resulting from the fire, lowering tuition bills is a small way we can help them recover from this catastrophe."
After the landslide near Oso, CWU waived all room-and-board fees and other football camp costs for Darrington High School players. During the Taylor Bridge, Table Mountain and other recent fires, the university provided communications and housing support to the Red Cross and fire crews. Employees helped rescue animals, process clothing and other donations, and provided space for public meetings and other activities. Last week the university offered similar support for the Chelan and Okanogan fires, but Ellensburg is too far from the front lines for facilities to be helpful.
"It's been hard to just watch the wildfires unfold and be too far away to help as we always have," Gaudino said. "We are ready to welcome students and help them focus on their studies instead of what's been a pretty terrible summer for those affected."
In response to last week’s call from the state Department of Natural Resources for experienced volunteers, CWU is allowing liberal use of personal leave for employees wanting to help in the firefight. Leave is permitted at the discretion of supervisors, so long as university business needs are met. The first day of fall quarter is September 23.
In 2012, 2013, and 2014 massive wildfires burned across timber, range, and farmland in central Washington, at one point advancing to within five miles of Ellensburg. The area has seen a handful of small fires so far this year, and like all employers and residents of the region CWU is closely monitoring fire activity. Updates are provided online at
Media contact: Barb Arnott, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-2841,