Budget prompts tuition hike

Tuition rates have increased 5.5 percent for the 2011-2012 school year at UW-Whitewater due to the state’s proposed budget to limit spending.

Effective this fall, students will pay an extra $322 annually for their tuition. The 5.5 percent tuition increase affects all UW schools and colleges.

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents voted 11-4 to boost tuition at an average of 5.5 percent. The tuition hike, however, is just one factor to help with the $250 million state budget cuts from the UW System over the next two years.

The tuition increase at all state universities and colleges is expected to yield up to $37.5 million in the 2011-2012 school year.

“No one likes to see tuition increases, but it was a necessary result of the state budget,” Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs Jeff Arnold said.

Tuition raises, Arnold said, are important in maintaining the quality of a university. Compared with other UW System schools, UW-Whitewater continues to be the best value in the system tuition-wise, Arnold said.

Whitewater Student Government President Patrick Johnson said that though people are upset about the tuition hike, it’s something they need to understand is necessary.

“Nobody wants to see tuition go up 5.5 percent and then see student fees go up too,” he said. “That’s what happens when you go to a state school. The state controls the budget and it goes up from there.”

Other increases at UW-Whitewater will see due to the operating budget include room rates, segregated fees and meal plans.

Room rates have increased $128, making living costs in the dormitories an average of $3,360.

Students can also expect to pay an extra $74 this school year if they have a meal plan. Meal plans, beginning this fall, will cost students $2,194.

Over the next two years, $10.7 million will be cut from UW-Whitewater alone.

At the State of the University Address last week, Chancellor Telfer said students and their families are the ones suffering from the consequences of the budget-repair bill.

“The budget passed additional costs on to students in the form of tuition,” Telfer said at the address. “While this tuition increase was necessary to maintain the quality of the education received, the fact still remains that as the state has reduced its financial support of higher education, with more and more of the cost being paid by students and their families.”

Johnson said it’s important to understand things could be much worse.

“We can kind of ease the tension from our organization down, tell people it’s not that bad. We could be in California or Illinois where it goes up 10 every year.”

Johnson said though cuts to financial aid increased the difficulty students face, there are opportunities to help cover the cost.

“There are a lot of things battling that,” Johnson said. “Student jobs are being increased by enough percent where if somebody wants a job, somebody can find a job.”

Johnson said if students do have problems finding a job, they can contact the student government or even Provost Beverly Kopper as it is “one of her big initiatives.”

UW-Madison tuition has increased $659. UW-Eau Claire closely followed with a rise of $611.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, UW-Whitewater tuition was $5,857 per year. This year, students can expect to pay $6,179 for tuition.

Arnold said UW-Whitewater has managed to keep the cost of tuition relatively low compared to other comprehensive schools, even with the declining state support.

“It will be difficult for students and families,” Arnold said. “It was just something that had to happen.”

Johnson said the tuition hike isn’t all bad and does have somewhat of a silver lining.

“It gives us a chance to build residence halls, renovate Carlson, you know, that all doesn’t come out of free money that Gov. Walker signs a check and gives us,” he said. “It’s also to do things like keep teachers , hire new teachers, keep our classroom sizes down…there’s a bunch of different sides to it.”

Johnson said he expects more students will be searching for on campus jobs because of the tuition hike.

“Even if it’s jobs like us here and SEAL, you don’t have to work in food service,” he said.

He also thinks the tuition hike will get students talking about what’s happening in the state and make them more involved in what’s going on.

“This shaking of tuition, budgets and how Gov. Walker did things, maybe that will shake the ground and make people wake up a bit, bet on top of the game when we have a major election again.”

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