Tuition has risen once again at all University of Wisconsin schools after the Board of Regents approved a 6.9 percent tuition hike July 7. Both in-state and out-of-state undergraduates at UW-Madison will pay an additional $364 in tuition for the upcoming academic year, amounting to $5,618 overall for Wisconsin residents and $19,618 for their out-of-state counterparts.
As a percentage, this hike is the lowest since the Board of Regents did not raise tuition at all following the 1999-2000 academic year, and is considerably lower than the previous two hikes, 18.2% in 2003 and 15.4% in 2004.
According to Board of Regents President David Walsh, revenue for the UW System comes from three areas: the state, tuition and fees and research, gifts, and grants.
“As a percentage, the state contribution has been going down every year,” Walsh said. “We very reluctantly raised [tuition]; the Legislature had cut us more than we thought we could absorb to continue.”
Although, as Walsh points out, the new tuition hike is “significantly less” than the previous two hikes, in-state tuition is now more than double what it was nine years ago and UW schools continue to become more exclusive to low-income families.
Walsh said the Board’s request for an increase in financial aid proportional to the tuition hike was not met by the state.
“We did not get as much financial aid dollar-for-dollar as the tuition increase,” Walsh said. “We asked for it but we didn’t receive it.”
Asked if the tuition will continue to rise over the next few years, Walsh expressed his continued hope of greater state support.
“We hope we can bring a halt to tuition increases,” Walsh said. “Our challenge is to persuade the Legislature and the governor that they should do that.”
Associated Students of Madison Chair Eric Varney dismissed the possibility of a tuition freeze, however, and deemed the tuition hike acceptable.
“Those seeking a tuition freeze simply aren’t being reasonable,” Varney said. “To offset rising costs, including wages, the UW System must raise tuition by at least the rate of inflation.”
Varney added it is outrageous to call the rise “horrendous” due to the stronger pinch many states are facing.
“[Considering] what the hike could have been and has been in recent years, 6.9% is acceptable,” he said.
Varney is, however, not fully sympathetic with the Board of Regents and criticizes them for not cutting costs within the administration.
“There are many ways as to which the Board of Regents could trim the budget, but they seem more content with jacking up fees than consolidating the inefficient administration,” he said.
According to Walsh, UW-Madison and the University of Iowa claim the lowest in-state tuitions in the Big Ten, adding UW-Madison has always been a “low tuition, low financial aid university.”
The 6.9 percent figure refers to the increase of the in-state tuition for all University of Wisconsin schools. That monetary value is then added to both in-state and out-of-state tuitions, resulting in only a 1.9 percent increase for out-of-state students at UW-Madison.