Resident tuition freeze delays inevitable

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April 27, 2016

Royal Purple Staff Opinion

The cost of college education is high and going up – especially if you’re a nonresident undergraduate or graduate student at UW-Whitewater.

Next semester, nonresident UW-W students can expect their tuition to raise by 3.4 percent, about $500. For graduate students, tuition hikes range from half a percent to 18 percent depending on the UW school and its  graduate program.

While the future of education appears costly for out-of-state students, resident tuition remains untouchable under the freeze implemented by Gov. Walker as part of his ’15-17 biennial budget.

Short of selling a kidney on the black market, we encourage UW-W students to stand in opposition to another freeze on resident tuition in the next biennial budget in an effort to more evenly distribute the financial burden of funding higher education to all UW students.

Earlier this month, the UW System Board of Regents approved tuition raise proposals for nonresident and graduate students at five UW campuses, including UW-W. The approvals came during a Board meeting at UW-Green Bay, where the Regents spent a considerable amount of time discussing hate and bias on various UW campuses, but neglected to talk about the tuition increases before voting on them.

Currently, tuition for resident undergraduate students costs $7,680 per year, whereas nonresidents pay $16,000. It doesn’t take a math whiz to deduce that nonresidents pay more than double for the same education. While the vast majority of them are Bears fans, it’s unfair to expect our out-of-state neighbors to pay more than double to finance everyone’s education.

If you are a resident of the Badger state, it may feel like a very conflicting stance to take. After all, why would you choose to oppose something that ultimately saves you money?

Tuition freezes are only a temporary solution to combat increasing tuition rates. It’s like trying to fix a gaping wound with a mere Band-Aid.

The real problem is decreased state funding, a trend that has plagued the UW System for the past decade and a half. The state budgets that implemented tuition freezes for resident students are the same budgets that cut $250 million from the UW System. For UW-W specifically, Gov. Walker’s ’15-17 budget cut $5.8 million.

We can’t expect to make up for those cuts by simply raising tuition for out-of-staters and grad students. That’s unfair and unrealistic. Everyone has to contribute, and everyone should contribute more evenly if we are going to continue to fund higher education effectively.

Raising tuition for grad students but not resident undergrads also could hurt UW-W’s relatively small graduate program by discouraging graduates to enroll at our university. If fewer grad students enroll because of disproportionate tuition rates, it will be increasingly difficult to expand Whitewater’s handful of programs.

After four years of tuition freezes for resident undergraduate students along with slashes in state funding, we are seeing UW colleges searching for other revenue streams to fund higher education. And nonresident and graduate students are required to carry the majority of the financial burden. It’s not fair to them, and it will ultimately hurt UW-W’s enrollment. The freeze must be lifted.

Still not convinced?

In the 2000-01 school year, the UW System saw another tuition freeze. In the subsequent years, UW tuition raised 18 and 15 percent.

Rising tuition costs are inevitable at this point. That’s what happens when hundreds of millions of dollars are cut from state funding. The UW colleges need to make up for those losses somewhere, and it’s not fair to expect nonresident and graduate students to make up the difference themselves.

The resident tuition freeze should be lifted so that we all pay a little more to ensure quality education for everyone. It’s only fair.