Quit whining! In-state students are already taking taxpayers for a ride

· Jul 11, 2001 Tweet

In campus politics, there are few issues that the student populace truly agrees upon. Housing, tuition and textbook costs are probably the best unifier of student politicians. Rare is the student who will openly lobby the generally vague idea of raising his own costs. Self-interest, as it often does in political motivations, again drives this issue.

The debate over tuition generally revolves around two arguments. The first is the access to higher education, wherein all are entitled to an education. The second is in-state retention of educated persons. I suggest that there are oversights in both of these arguments.

If the primary goal of the University were to remain affordable to students, and if higher education were truly a right, then there would seem to be no reason to believe that a college education at a state institution could not be free. However, as college students should know already, nothing is truly free.

When the folks over at UW’s statewide student government, United Council, and other para-university organizations demand lower tuition, I doubt that they are asking for higher education funds to be drained into student’s personal pockets. Instead, they are asking for the working men and women of the state of Wisconsin to “pay their fair share” to send students to college.

It is consistently shown that college educated persons have higher earning power and are more likely to hold positions of authority upon graduation. A significant portion of Wisconsin taxpayers are not college educated. From their perspective, they are being asked to pay for a financial and power imbalance of which they are on the light side. In other words, it would appear many Wisconsin workers are being asked to subsidize the cost of making themselves less marketable and profitable in relation to their peers.

Fortunately for them, much of the state’s new top talent will not stay to compete in Wisconsin. Of course, this is not the ideal situation
either. It is said that education is an investment in the future. If that is the case, perhaps the Wisconsin tax form should read “Forward(ed to Illinois).”

The educated people are not leaving the state to spite Wisconsin or the millions of taxpayers that subsidized their education. No, once again, for self-interest, these people want high paying jobs. It is not my intention to scare anyone, but there is not an abundance of great paying jobs in Wisconsin.

The cost of doing business in the state is a major contributing factor to this lack of jobs. A contributing factor to doing business is paying the state government for doing business there. A contributing factor to the tax levy state governments charge is subsidization of higher education costs.

Am I asking in-state students to be ashamed of themselves for their shortsightedness and selfishness? Not necessarily. On the bright side, students wanting others to pay for their tuition probably comprise one of the least disgusting special interests in Madison with their hands out.

— Jorgensen is a former chair of the Student Services Finance Committee. He can be contacted at [email protected]


This article was published Jul 11, 2001 at 12:00 pm and last updated Jul 11, 2001 at 12:00 pm


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