UW regents approve plan to raise in-state tuition in 2018-19 school year
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents sought to reassert its role in determining tuition prices on Friday by approving a plan that would end a freeze on in-state tuition imposed by the state Legislature with a small increase in thos...
The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents sought to reassert its role in determining tuition prices on Friday by approving a plan that would end a freeze on in-state tuition imposed by the state Legislature with a small increase in those costs for the 2018-19 school year.
Although the board has increased tuition for out-of-state as well as graduate and professional students at some campuses in recent years, several members noted that Friday's vote was the regents' first on in-state undergraduate tuition prices since the summer of 2012.
Regent Drew Petersen said he hopes the board will be able to "take that function back” from the Legislature, which has kept tuition for in-state students capped since 2013 after lawmakers discovered UW had been accumulating cash reserves while raising tuition in prior years.
“We are the body that is supposed to set tuition," Regent Margaret Farrow said.
Under the plan, which was unanimously approved during the board's October meeting at UW-Eau Claire, in-state undergraduate tuition would stay flat for the 2017-18 school year. The year after that, tuition would rise by no more than the annual percentage increase of the Consumer Price Index.
Officials estimate the change will bring in $7.5 million in new tuition revenue to the System.
Legislators could still override the board's decision in the next state budget by extending the popular tuition freeze. But it's unclear if that will happen -- Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants to keep tuition flat in the next school year, but has not committed to continuing the freeze beyond that.
System officials who spoke in favor of the plan said the increase will be modest. The Consumer Price Index rose by 1.1 percent over the prior year as of August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which would translate to an extra $115 per year at UW-Madison.
They also emphasized that the cost of tuition is only one factor affecting how affordable college is for students and families, and said efforts to reduce the time it takes to earn a degree and increase financial aid, among others, will help keep costs down.
"Let’s not get tuition tunnel-vision," UW System President Ray Cross said. "If that’s the only thing we look at we’re missing major, major factors.”