After three years of an in-state tuition freeze, University of Wisconsin System officials are considering lifting the cap after the 2017-18 academic school year.
For in-state UW students, this means their current tuition of $10,488 would rise to $10,603 by the 2018-19 academic school year.
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In a blog post Sept. 26, Chancellor Rebecca Blank said she is “not a fan” of tuition freezes. Instead, she favors the idea the Board of Regents proposed.
“I think tuition should at least keep up with inflation,” Blank wrote. “We need to work with the Regents, Legislature and the governor on this.”
In the past, Gov. Scott Walker praised the tuition freeze, citing it as a “key strategy” for keeping college affordable. As of lately, however, he has not commented on whether or not he intends to extend it into the next academic school year.
In the event that the Legislature fails to extend the freeze, the board will use this plan to prepare for how to handle tuition for Wisconsin residents.
In the proposal, UW System officials said the rate at which students graduate remains the most important factor in college affordability. The board believes the sooner the students are able to earn their degree, the sooner they will will be able to earn salaries within their respective fields.
With the current freeze and budget cuts, however, fewer classes are available with an increased enrollment — creating a “potential harm” to students’ experiences.
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“The current tuition freeze has provided savings to students in the immediate term,” UW System officials said in the proposal. “However, it can also mean fewer classes and longer time to graduation, costing students more in the long term.
Other factors affecting affordability can include financial aid, state funding, graduation time and the specific university’s ability to provide for the students.
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To address these other concerns, in August, the board approved the UW System’s 2020FWD strategic framework plan, which aims to address college affordability while connecting UW institutions to Wisconsin businesses. 2020FWD seeks approximately $42.5 million in funding for its initiatives.
The plan to consider lifting the tuition freeze will go before the UW System Board of Regents Friday.