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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Courtesy of Bryce Richter / University of Wisconsin-Madison

UW System breaks down tuition increase

The University of Wisconsin System announced further details regarding new tuition and fee proposals for the upcoming academic year on Friday. 

To keep the system “financially sustainable,” UW System President Jay Rothman revealed proposed plans to increase the system’s tuition and fees by approximately 5%. At all 13 universities, the average attendance cost would increase by 4.2%, with exact increases varying by university. At UW-Madison, the 2023-24 academic year tuition and fees for undergraduates are proposed to increase by 3.9%, from $10,798 to $11,125. 

In an informational hearing for the Wisconsin Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities, Rothman noted the proposed increase was still lower than the rate of inflation.

"We looked at what our budget requests were, we looked at where we would believe we should come in at in terms of a tuition increase, and we were not out to try to capture everything inflation has done,” Rothman said. “There has been a diminution in our spending power and if we don't increase tuition, and [even] if the Legislature still gave us money, that really cuts our purchasing power in half. We've got to hit each of those levers of revenue in order to make it work.”

The increase would mean approximately $500 for in-state students and $2,000 for out-of-state students. The Board of Regents will meet on March 30 and 31 at UW-Stout to consider this proposal, according to Channel 3000 News. 

Legislative action and the future of UW tuition

In recent years, the UW System has rolled out programs to ensure affordability of university education for students, namely the Wisconsin Tuition Promise and Bucky’s Pell Pathway program. Funding for the system hangs in the balance with legislative debate over Gov. Tony Evers’ new biennial budget proposal, as Republicans have expressed the desire to limit university funding and UW tuition increases

Evers proposed a $305.9 million increase for the UW System in his budget proposal, $130 million less than the Board of Regents’ proposal. For the first time in his three budget proposals since being elected governor, Evers did not include money for a UW tuition freeze.

When asked about the frequency and degree of future tuition changes, UW System Director of Media Relations Mark Pitsch said, “Generally, revenues and expenses are reviewed annually.” 

Pitsch also noted how these changes might affect the universities’ socioeconomic demographic and whether there is a plan to control these possible changes by referencing a 2022 press release regarding the Wisconsin Tuition Promise.

“Education unlocks success in Wisconsin,” Rothman said in the release. “By ensuring that every Wisconsin student is given the full opportunity to get a higher education, we will improve those lives directly while building the economic engine and community prosperity that benefit all Wisconsinites.”

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