College News

University of Minnesota’s tuition increase to affect Wisconsinites

Tuition on the Twin Cities campus will increase by two percent for incoming Wisconsinites and in-state residents next year.

Image By: Creative Commons - Ben Franske

Tuition rates are on the rise.

This is especially true for Wisconsin’s neighbor and football rival to the west, the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. The University of Minnesota Board of Regents followed suit with other midwestern schools when the body voted to raise the undergraduate tuition on all of its campuses at a special meeting last week.

The Twin Cities campus will have the greatest tuition increase compared to other system campuses, with a two percent hike for incoming state residents and Wisconsinites as well as a 12.5 percent increase for out-of-state residents who don’t have reciprocity.

As a result, incoming Wisconsinites and other in-state residents will be paying $254 more next year compared to this past year. According to Julie Tonneson, associate vice president for budget and finance at the University of Minnesota, the increase is a common trend.

“We believe that at a two percent increase, that is right around the current inflation rate, is probably something you’re going to see at a lot of institutions,” Tonneson said. “There are a lot of [other university] rates, as I understand it, that will be going up two percent or more.”

Other schools in the Midwest have made similar decisions. The Iowa Board of Regents recently voted to raise their tuition by $216 per year for all students at Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa next fall. The University of Iowa’s resident undergraduates will also see this increase while out-of-state, graduate and professional students will pay a larger amount.

The University of Nebraska and the University of Michigan will also have increased tuition rates for residents and out-of-state students, despite Michigan’s recently announced “Go Blue Initiative,” a free tuition program for families making under $65,000 a year.

Wisconsin’s tuition freeze raises questions about Minnesota enrollment at UW-Madison

Two percent may not seem like a lot, but for some, that increase makes a difference.

Minnesota resident, Pam Ploumidis has a daughter who attends UW-Madison as an out-of-state student and a son who is an incoming high school junior.

While Ploumidis said her family can afford tuition without financial aid, she said she is concerned about how tuition seems to rise higher than inflation each year at many universities in the Midwest.

Although there wasn’t discussion about eliminating reciprocity in Wisconsin’s 2017-2019 biennial budget, Ploumidis said she is always fearful of losing reciprocity with Wisconsin. In 2015, Gov. Walker proposed giving control over negotiating the reciprocity agreement with Minnesota to the UW System, possibly causing an elimination of the deal in order to increase revenue.

“We’re blessed that Lizzy and I’s dad worked for years,” Ploumidis said. “So we’ve been putting it away for years - money so that she wouldn’t struggle like we did when we went to college. I worry about everybody in that situation and it’s a fact that you have to have a degree unless you go technical.”

Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee recently approved a tuition freeze for the 2017-2019 biennial budget, raising questions about the number of Minnesota students that will be admitted after the UW System failed to receive the full funding it asked from the state.

The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education Managing Director Noel Radomski said the number of non-resident international students at UW-Madison, UW System schools, and other universities across the country has quickly escalated over the last few years because that group brings in the greatest tuition revenue.

“It’s just behavioral economics,” Radomski said. “You go after the money. If we can’t get more state money, if we can’t get more federal money, then we have to seek ulterior sources...there’s all these different mechanisms that universities are adopting either as a substitute for state reductions or to go beyond that.”

However, UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone said that with the tuition freeze, the university does not expect a significant change in the number of Minnesota students admitted.

“We get excellent students from Minnesota, both as freshmen and transfers, and going forward, we don’t expect the tuition freeze to have much impact on our Minnesota enrollment,” UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said.

The Minnesota Board of Regents launch new online comment form for public opinion on budget

In the original proposal, University of Minnesota Board of Regents President Eric Kaler recommended a three percent increase for in-state students on the Twin Cities campus and a ten percent increase for non-residents due to a lack of state funding.

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents asked for $147 million in extra funding, but the legislature only approved $54.6 million. The body cited this in a release after their special meeting saying that the approved budget is “reflective of the state’s decision to only partially fund the University’s request this year.”

Ploumidis also thought funding should be the state’s “burden” because of Minnesota’s high taxes. This led her to email the University of Minnesota Board of Regents asking that tuition not be raised when she heard debate about a possible hike last year. However, she said she did not receive a response.

“I just find that the system is so layered that you don’t know who to talk to,” Ploumidis said. “Even if you try to email someone and ask them, it really falls on deaf ears.”

In preparation for the special meeting, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents administered a new electronic comment process to encourage greater participation among the public, Associate Public Relations Director Steve Henneberry said.

Before, speakers were limited to three minutes because the public budget forum was an hour long, meaning that only 20 people could comment. Henneberry said more people weighed in this year compared to the previous year, with 38 people commenting.

A release from the University of Minnesota Board of Regents said the new comment process allowed the public and those associated with the university to “share their opinions and perspectives on the proposed budget over a longer period, at their convenience.”

The open comment section lasted from June 2 at noon to June 13 at noon. Comments from those who submitted feedback are listed at the end of the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents’ docket which was posted on June 16 for the special meeting.

“As a public land grant university, we value what members of the university community and the public have to tell us,” Henneberry said. “Each of those audiences by themselves are important constituents to the university and I think together we need to provide a way for people to weigh in on the budget.”

Although Ploumidis was interested in participating, she said she missed the time frame to submit a comment.

With the University of Minnesota Regents’ decision to raise tuition, Ploumidis said she is happy to have reciprocity with with other Midwestern states, especially Wisconsin where her daughter decided to go to school.

“We’re really grateful that we have it [reciprocity] and Wisconsin is just such a better fit [for my daughter] even though we don’t live in that state, but on the other hand, Wisconsin kids can come to Minnesota,” Ploumidis said. “My daughter got accepted to I think a university in Iowa and she didn’t want to go, but it is an issue. You do put that in the list of ‘Will we go or will we not go?’"

Ploumidis said if UW-Madison wasn’t affordable, her daughter probably would not have picked it. Her son is considering attending UW-Madison as well.

“They are pretty competitive—Minnesota and Wisconsin. I think the experience would be awesome for him to go there, but if we had to pay out-of-state we’d probably pick in-state,” Ploumidis said. “I think it would impact his decision and our decision as a family.”

Despite the University of Minnesota Regents’ and some community members’ uneasiness with the original proposal, Tonneson said the university had “very strong” application numbers for the academic year and she doesn’t anticipate the decision impacting enrollment.

“We have been communicating a planned two percent increase so this is very consistent with the information that was shared during the recruiting process,” Tonneson said. “So this isn’t a surprise. It shouldn’t be a surprise to students who were looking at the University of Minnesota and chose to confirm to enroll here. I don’t anticipate that regardless of where the students are from that there will be a specific impact on enrollment due to this decision.”

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