Gov. Scott Walker said he would be open to extending his proposed tuition freeze for the University of Wisconsin System Thursday.
According to The Associated Press, the governor’s proposal would make future aid payments to UW into a block grant taken from sales tax revenue. Walker said during a conference call Thursday he was open to setting a permanent tuition freeze, but does not have a plan in place currently.
“I don’t have a specific proposal,” Walker said. “I’m willing to work with lawmakers on it.”
For the upcoming budget, Walker has proposed a two-year tuition freeze, following the freeze from the 2013-15 budget. While proposing $300 million in cuts for UW System, Walker said he wants to make UW a public autonomy which would be intended to offset the proposed cuts.
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Noel Radomski, director for the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Post Secondary Education, said permanently extending the tuition freeze is politically attractive. The legislators and general public are tired of seeing and hearing how expensive college has gotten and student loan debt is going up every year, Radomski said.
“In the general public, there is anger about rising tuition, and I think that is why politicians play this up,” Radomski said. “A tuition freeze is an attractive thing to say.”
Radomski said a permanent tuition freeze could directly affect the number of out of state students enrolled. UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank has considered raising the cap on out of state students from 27.5 percent to 30 percent, Radomski said. Allowing more out of state students would raise revenue, but there would less spaces for in-state students, he said.
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said to the Associated Press he disapproved of extending the tuition freeze, calling it “outrageous.” He said that on top of the $300 million cut, it would take decades to recover.
“It’s great to have a tuition freeze if you invest in the university,” Barca said.