- Views & Opinions
University of Wisconsin System officials have approved raising tuition for out-of-state, graduate and professional school students by hundreds of dollars at more than a half-dozen campuses as they grapple with a Republican-imposed freeze on in-state undergraduate tuition.
The plan calls for increases at UW-Eau Clare, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Stout and all the system’s two-year institutions beginning next fall.
The increases range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars for professional schools at UW-Madison, the system’s flagship campus.
That school’s plan includes raising nonresident undergraduate tuition by $4,000 to $35,523 per year. Increases at the school’s professional schools are even steeper. A master’s degree in global real estate will now cost $43,387 per year, an increase of $11,116. One year of medical school will now cost $46,387 for nonresidents, an increase of $7,751. Wisconsin residents will now have to pay $34,478 annually for medical school, an increase of $5,828.
The campuses and system leaders contend they need the extra money in the face of the resident undergraduate freeze, which entered its fourth year this fall and a $250 million cut Republicans imposed on the system in the current state budget.
They also maintain the increases would bring nonresident rates more in line with peer institutions and dollars generated by the graduate increases will stay in those programs.
The plan represents a third round of nonresident and graduate tuition increases at La Crosse, Milwaukee and Stout and the second at UW-Madison since 2015.
The Board of Regents approved the increases on a voice vote.
Discussion lasted less than 15 minutes. Regents Bryan Steil and James Langnes, a UW-Whitewater student, were the only dissenters. Steil said the increases were “too much, too fast.”
System President Ray Cross and regents President Regina Millner countered that the increases represent an investment in the system’s future and UW-Madison’s professional schools are the only such public schools in the state and are crucial to providing doctors, veterinarians and lawyers for Wisconsin.
Raising nonresident and graduate tuition risks alienating those students and losing them to other schools. But system officials said in a memo to regents that schools aren’t concerned about losing those students because the rates are still competitive with peer institutions. A preliminary system report shows the overall number of nonresident freshmen fall enrollments has increased since the 2013-14 academic year.
The regents this fall approved a separate plan to keep undergraduate resident tuition flat for 2017-18 and raise it by no more than the rate of inflation the following year if Republicans lift the freeze. GOP Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants to continue the freeze for at least one more year but hasn’t committed beyond that.
The regents also unanimously approved seeking an additional $78 million from the Legislature to bulk up employee raises over the next two years.
System leaders argued in a memo to the board that other public universities’ salary increases have been outstripping the UW System. UW-Madison’s faculty salaries, for example, were 18 percent lower than peer faculty elsewhere after adjustments for geographic costs of living in fiscal year 2014-15, the memo said.
The vote sends the request to the Legislature’s employment relations committee.
The request comes on top of the system’s request for an additional $42.5 million in state aid in the next state budget.