Reciprocity agreement should change

Many legislators are concerned about the unfairness of a situation in which Minnesota residents must pay more than Wisconsin students to attend the University.

I am writing to respond to the Feb. 24 editorial regarding my proposal to reform the tuition reciprocity agreements that exist between Minnesota and three neighboring states: Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Contrary to the assertions made in the editorial, my bill does not call for tuition increases for Wisconsin students who attend the University.

What my bill does is adopt the recommendations recently made to the Legislature in a report completed by the legislative auditor. That report suggests the current agreements are not very fair to Minnesota in a number of respects and proposes reforms to them.

Fundamentally, I agree with the principle of the tuition reciprocity agreements that allows students to migrate across state lines to access a quality higher education that best fits their personal needs. In fact, I support ending any nonresident tuition rates and allowing students from all other states and countries to come to Minnesota at the in-state tuition rate. This would be a tremendous benefit to Minnesota’s economic future.

However, it is worth noting that many legislators are concerned about the unfairness of a situation in which Minnesota residents must pay more than $1,000 per year more to attend the University than do students who come here from Wisconsin. I am hopeful that by adopting some or all of my bill, Minnesota will be able to negotiate a more sensible and equitable agreement with our Wisconsin neighbors.

Rep. Joe Opatz, DFL-St. Cloud, is a University alumnus. He received his doctoral degree in 1982. Send comments to [email protected]