Wisconsin Legislature Orders Tuition Freeze In UW System
But Students Will Pay More in Segregated Fees
by Masha Vodyanik, age 16
Amid national discussion over interest rates on federal
student loans, and the mounting problem of student loan debt, University
of Wisconsin System passed a tuition freeze to take place this academic
year. This means that for the 2013-14 year, costs of tuition will
remain the same as the previous school year. The freeze will apply to
in-state and out-of-state undergraduates along with graduate students.
Therefore, the change will affect all UW System students. Lawmakers
wrote the tuition freeze into the 2013-15 state budget that was passed
by Governor Scott Walker.
Over the last several
years, tuition increased an average of 5.5 percent. In April, the system
proposed a tuition hike of two percent, along with a $181 million budget
increase. However, shortly after the proposal, a state audit revealed
the UW System was sitting on a $648 million reserve. Upon learning this,
the legislature denied the UW System their tuition increase.
Initially, the UW System suggested that four graduate schools
increase their tuition, but the idea was later scrapped to avoid any
unfair changes before all tuition policies for next year were discussed.
Due to the tuition freeze, costs of fees and room
and board will be increased among the 13 universities. Segregated fees,
which pay for extra campus and student amenities, such as student unions
and on-campus gyms, will be increased between 0.5 percent and 11
percent. UW-Madison will have an increase of 2.3 percent, or $25, and
UW-Milwaukee will have the highest increase of 11 percent, or $119 in
segregated fees. Room and board fees will increase an average of 3
percent throughout the schools, with UW-Madison at a 3.3 percent, or
$263 increase. In contrast, UW-La-Crosse will have a decrease of $50.
Although the full financial impact of the tuition freeze is
unknown, outgoing 2012-13 interim Chancellor David Ward predicted the
freeze will contribute to a long-standing problem of UW competing with
universities who can pay top dollar to top-level professors. The UW
System is predicting a revenue decrease of $42 million as a result of
the tuition freeze in the next two years. An additional $47 million
will be used for new employee benefits and salaries. While that can be
covered by the recently revealed cash reserve, new long-term revenues
will be necessary to bridge this gap in future.
[Source: Wisconsin State Journal]