With tuition costs rising at the University of Wisconsin for the sixth consecutive year in 2012, the Associated Students of Madison Legislative Affairs Committee reviewed the impact the state and federal budgets will have on students, urging the campus community to get involved in the budget process at a meeting Monday.
Legislative Affairs Committee Chair Daniel Statter presented information about the federal and state budgets and explained how certain aspects of both budgets could affect UW students.
Statter said at the federal level, it is important that the university continues to receive funding from the federal government.
“This is important for students because federal funding for the university accounts for about 33 percent of our total revenues,” Statter said.
If the proposed sequestration goes through, Statter said there would be budget cuts across the board, including education. He said for example, this would affect UW in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and CALS would suffer from more than $7 billion in budget cuts.
Statter said federal budget cuts would also affect the funding to the Pell Grant system, which provides need-based funding to students. He said Pell Grants do not need to be repaid.
“There are thousands and thousands of Pell Grant receiving students, who on average receive $3,200,” Statter said. “That is why this is important.”
At the state level, Statter said there is a divide between what the university needs and the actual funding the state is willing to provide.
Statter said as tuition costs continue to rise, those that need the most help to afford tuition are finding that it is not available to them.
“The gap is ever increasing between what the UW needs to ensure that we all continue to receive a quality education and what the state is willing to provide for that quality education,” Statter said.
ASM Advisor Michael Moscicke said the cost of education continues to rise because of increases in administrative costs, reduction in state support and increases in benefit costs primarily related to healthcare.
Current law states that under Wisconsin Financial Aid Funding, state-based financial aid has to be matched to the percent increase in tuition as estimated each year by the state budget.
“The state has commitments to other programs, primarily medical entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid and Badgercare, whose funding has dramatically increased over the last 20 years,” Moscicke said. “So the state has re-prioritized other spending items within the state budget.”
Moscicke said this does not always happen, adding exceptions are often written into the state budget.
He said for roughly the last 10 years, there has been an exception written into the state budget that has the force of law.
Moscicke said the exceptions written into state budgets include either an increase in financial aid, which he said has only happened once, or to not provide as much financial aid as called for, something which he said has happened every other time.
Statter said he thinks that in order to make sure that UW continues to provide quality education, something needs to change.
“The UW still provides a quality education,” Statter said. “But we know that we’re paying our professors 18 percent under what the market says we should be paying them. We know the state is not giving us a lot more money. The federal government is talking sequestration and cuts across the board. That’s not good for us. That’s not sustainable.”