Bill could raise Wisconsin students’ tuition

The new bill proposes Wisconsin students pay Minnesota resident tuition.

Courtney Blanchard

Students from Wisconsin could see their tuition jump at the University if lawmakers have their way.

African studies sophomore Ryann Streicher, from Madison, Wis., attends the University because of the reciprocity agreement that allows her to pay, on average, $1,190 less per year than Minnesotans.

“Of course I’m glad I get away with it, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily fair,” she said.

That might no longer be an issue if the bill, H.F. 398, becomes law. Starting in the 2008-2009 school year, Wisconsin students could pay Minnesota resident tuition rates.

Streicher said she applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but chose Minnesota because she wanted to leave her hometown.

Streicher said she’d either have to take out more loans or transfer to Madison if the bill passes.

“I think if it took effect immediately, I might transfer,” she said.

Wisconsin residents pay less than Minnesota residents because of an agreement in which students pay their state’s tuition rate.

Peter Zetterberg, senior analyst in the Provost’s Office, said the University covers the discrepancy between tuition rates.

“It comes from the fact that Minnesota resident students are paying more than what otherwise would be the case,” Zetterberg said.

He said the University can’t do anything about it unless the Legislature passes a law. He added that for several years, University President Bob Bruininks has asked the state to fix the tuition gap.

If the bill passes, “it would mean about $7 million in additional revenue for the University,” Zetterberg said.

Freshman Rep. Linda Slocum, DFL-Richfield, said she doesn’t know a lot about the history of the issue.

“But what I can’t figure out is why it would fail in the past,” she said.

Slocum said it’s an issue of fairness: the University shouldn’t be losing money.

But that still wouldn’t fix the high tuition rates, she said.

“I could give you kind of a jaded viewpoint – that Minnesota has not kept up its promise to educate kids the way Wisconsin has,” she said. “Maybe what we should do is equalize our tuition with theirs.”

Nursing, international business and fabrics sophomore Kelly Diallo said she doesn’t think it’s fair Wisconsin residents pay less than Minnesota residents like herself.

Even with grants, Diallo said, she’s going to have to take out a lot of loans, especially with three majors.

If tuition were to decrease even slightly, she said it would help her situation a lot.

“You don’t realize what you put in by the time you’re out of school,” Diallo said. “I might be $40,000 in debt.”

Minnesota also has reciprocity agreements with Manitoba, North Dakota and South Dakota. In those cases, students pay Minnesota rates instead of the nonresident rate of $19,218 per year.

Students from Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska pay a reduced rate per year through the Midwest Student Exchange Program.

Zetterberg said these programs don’t hurt the University budget, however, because there’s no loss in revenue.