Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Financial aid will revitalize the economy


This semester promises to be incredibly busy for the Associated Students of Madison. We will testify in favor of tax-free textbooks and see the add-a-regent bill through to fruition.

We will push the administration to increase peer advising and make advising records more accessible to students. We will run the Worst House in Madison contest, bringing to light some of the horrible living conditions UW-Madison students put up with.

Perhaps most importantly, ASM, in conjunction with student governments across the state, is working on a statewide campaign on financial aid. ASM is committed to rebuilding the state?s weak economy by lobbying for smart investments in financial aid that will help develop the state?s workforce and attract major businesses.

Tomorrow?s strong economy will start with financial aid investments today.
With over 150,000 students on 26 campuses, the UW System is one of the largest and most comprehensive state-funded education systems in the country. For decades, Wisconsin has been a leader in higher education, but over the years, state support for education has dwindled. Tuition has increased over 100 percent in the last 10 years, and loans now make up almost 70 percent of financial aid.
All of this results in a simple fact we have all heard before: the average graduating debt burden for UW students is over $15,000. For many students on this campus, this statistic is a reality.
When I was a senior at my Chicago public high school, I decided to attend UW because it was not in Illinois, it was ranked as one of the best schools for teacher education and because, at $11,587.90 per year, my parents felt it was a good deal. With my undergraduate career almost behind me, I do not regret my choice of schools. I will graduate next December certified to teach by one of the most respected schools of education in the country, and I will have no problem finding a job.

The only thing I question is how I will pay back my loans, totaling about $10,000 ? and that?s after mom and dad?s help ? on a teacher?s salary. That good deal that my parents thought they were getting back in 1998 didn?t turn out so well, as out-of-state tuition has risen over 75 percent since I arrived as a freshman.
Wisconsin is currently facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, and cuts in education are being seen as inevitable.

And while I readily admit the current financial crisis must be solved, I also adamantly defend the need to plan for and invest in Wisconsin?s future.
According to the UW System, every dollar invested in higher education is returned 10 fold into the state economy. Strong investments in financial aid ? not further cuts in funding and increases in tuition ? will enable students to attend and graduate from college, making sure Wisconsin?s workforce is ready to meet the challenges of the new century.

We do not stand alone in the struggle to build Wisconsin?s economy through smart investments in financial aid. This semester we will join forces with United Council and the 150,000 students of the UW System to build statewide support for legislative and budgetary increases to financial aid. Our goal is to see Assembly Bill 194, which proposes to link financial aid increases directly to tuition increases, passed out of committee and to win substantial increases in financial aid in any budget reform legislation.
This statewide campaign will not only reprioritize financial aid and higher education, but it will build the framework for a sophisticated network of student activism across the state. One of my favorite statistics reads, ?1 President, 485 Legislators, 25,000,000 voters aged 18-25.?
We, the students, have the power to make a difference both in lobbying our officials and in the 2002 elections. We stand at a turning point for Wisconsin. It is up to us to shape the future we want to live in by building statewide power and making sure Wisconsin sees the highest student-voter turn out ever.


Jessica Miller ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in education. She is the chair of ASM.

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