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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

UW System, state reps fight for aid increase

A group of state legislators and student representatives from the United Council of University of Wisconsin Students Inc. rallied together at Memorial Union Wednesday to bring attention to Assembly Bill 194, legislation that would increase financial aid at the same level as tuition increases. 

 

 

 

Other conferences occurred in various parts of the state, where students from other UW System schools, including Oshkosh and LaCrosse, participated. 

 

 

 

State Reps. Spencer Black, D-Madison, and John Richards, D-Milwaukee, joined UW-Madison student representatives at the press conference.  

 

 

 

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'Already the average student's debt burden is $16,000. That is going to grow,' Black said. 

 

 

 

The United Council is a student association for the entire UW System. 

 

 

 

Black said Assembly democrats will be making a motion on the floor to pass AB 194 today.  

 

 

 

He also said Assembly republicans 'have refused to hear' the bill. 

 

 

 

Black said he thinks democrats will have the support for the bill if the republicans 'have guts' and 'vote their conscience.' 

 

 

 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Administration's fiscal estimates, AB 194 involves a substantial increase in funding. The Lawton Minority Grant would cost $26,380 for every 1 percent increase in tuition. Additionally, the Wisconsin Tuition and Wisconsin Higher Education Grants would cost $39,938,900. 

 

 

 

Matt Fargen, United Council president, said UW-Madison needs to 'convince the legislature that it is a wise investment.' 

 

 

 

'We're here today to ask that education remains affordable,' he said. 'Now is the time to ask the people we elected for accountability.' 

 

 

 

He said Wisconsin should invest in education, rather than spend money incarcerating criminals. According to Fargen, student aid is now composed of 70 percent loans and 30 percent grants. 

 

 

 

'The real issue that we have here is that students are graduating with a mortgage,' he said. 

 

 

 

Craig Trost, United Council legislative affairs director, said he knows taking money from an already tight state budget will be difficult. 

 

 

 

'There is a $10 return on [taxpayers'] investment for every dollar the state government spends [in the UW],' Trost said.  

 

 

 

Richards said AB 194 is needed 'at a time when tuition is crazy, and financial aid is being ladled out in little spoonfuls.' He said UW-Milwaukee has experienced a 70 percent increase in tuition over the past 10 years, but only a 28 percent increase in financial aid. 

 

 

 

A UW-Milwaukee student said her campus strongly supported the bill. 

 

 

 

'The future and progress of our state [depends on making education affordable],' she said.

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