Tuition Increases Coming Some University of Wisconsin Students' Way

by | April 13, 2015

By Karen Herzog

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents finalized tuition increases for nine campuses on Friday, and pushed back against a key lawmaker who blasted UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank for proposing a 35% tuition increase over four years for nonresident undergraduates.

UW-Madison will boost tuition for nonresident undergraduates 11.75% next year. Wisconsin resident undergrads at UW-Madison and all other UW campuses will not see tuition increases; their tuition has been frozen for the past two years and likely will remain frozen for the next two years.

UW-Madison also is raising tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students in business graduate programs, the doctor of nursing practice program and the professional schools of pharmacy, medicine and veterinary medicine to bring them closer to their peers in the Big 10. Those increases range from 9% to 20%.

Nonresident undergraduate tuition for the flagship campus this fall will increase by $3,000, to $28,523. International students will pay the same increase, plus $1,000. The other tuition increases range from 9% for all pharmacy school students to 20% for nonresident veterinary medicine students.

Blank proposed a four-year plan for tuition increases. The regents only gave the green light to the first two years, but indicated support for the four-year plan.

Blank's plan would boost nonresident undergraduate tuition by a total $10,000 over four years -- $3,000 each of the first two years and $2,000 each of the following two years. Nonresident undergrads this year paid $25,523, while resident undergrads paid $10,410. The new nonresidnet tuition rate does not apply to Minnesota students, who attend UW schools under the decades-old Minnesota-Wisconsin Interstate Tuition Reciprocity Agreement.

Blank projected that UW-Madison's nonresident tuition would still be no higher than fourth or fifth in the Big Ten by 2018-'19.

Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), who serves on several education-related legislative committees, late Thursday released a statement criticizing Blank for proposing a 35% tuition increase for nonresident undergrads over four years.

"Rebecca Blank doesn't care about the plight of middle class students, either resident or nonresident," Nass said. "She is a clear threat to the Wisconsin Idea of serving students of all economic backgrounds, especially those from the middle class."

Nass began his statement by saying he opposed Blank's hiring in 2013 "because she had an elitist approach to tuition." Her tuition proposal, he said, "just proves that my initial inclination was accurate."

Regents Vice President Regina Millner said during Friday's regents meeting at UW-Waukesha that affordability and sensible market policy should be considered when setting both in-state and out-of-state tuition.

"But our in-state students shouldn't be asked to subsidize out-of-state students," she said. Tuition for students from other states should reflect the market rate for the quality education they receive at UW-Madison, she said.

"On behalf of all the regents, personal attacks against you are totally out of line," Regent Mark Bradley said to Blank. "You're doing your job and doing it well. Without advocacy for your institution and bringing the facts forward," the regents couldn't do their jobs, he said.

UW System President Ray Cross said he was "miffed at the abhorrent personal attack."

"I believe the chancellor and her staff have done a solid job of rationally presenting" a tuition plan, Cross said.

UW-Milwaukee in the fall will raise nonresident tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students by 2.5%; nonresident tuition for health science master's degree students by 3%; and both nonresident and in-state tuition by 5.5% for students seeking a master's in business.

UW-La Crosse, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout and UW-Whitewater also are raising tuition for various programs, but not resident undergrads. UW-Eau Claire, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Green Bay and UW-Superior are not raising tuition for any programs.

(c)2015 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel