U requests reciprocity changes

Brady Averill

After nearly four decades of granting reciprocity agreements with nearby states, the University is asking the State Legislature to change the system.

Since 1968, Minnesota has had agreements with Manitoba, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

At a House Higher Education Finance Committee meeting Monday, the state Higher Education Services Office discussed how changes in reciprocity agreements could affect higher education and the state.

Peter Zetterberg, director of the University Office of Institutional Research and Reporting, said a central concern is equality between resident and nonresident students. At the University, Wisconsin students pay $7,162 in tuition, whereas Minnesota students pay $8,230.

“I think it’s a problem that simply can no longer be ignored,” Zetterberg said.

According to a reciprocity update Zetterberg presented, the University wants to change the agreement with Wisconsin for undergraduate students, so students pay the higher tuition amount of the campus they attend or of a comparable institution in their home state.

The update also would remove pharmacy – a professional program – from the agreement.

Last year, 23,000 Minnesota residents attended college in Wisconsin. Approximately 19,000 Wisconsin residents attended college in Minnesota, said Susan Heegaard, Higher Education Services Office director.

Rep. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, said people might perceive the current reciprocity agreement with Wisconsin as an imbalance. But in the long run, the fact that Wisconsin students pay less tuition might be an incentive to attract them.

Rep. Joe Opatz, DFL-St. Cloud, said the more attractive Minnesota is to out-of-state students, the better off it is.

Heegaard said it’s important to look at the overall net gain.

Wisconsin students currently pay less tuition, but if they stay in the state, they are paying Minnesota tax dollars, she said.

Heegaard said there are a number of proposals to change reciprocity agreements.

“We’re trying to find a way to make this better,” she said.

But it would cost approximately $6 million to change the agreements, she said.

According to Zetterberg’s update, the University wants to remove certain professional programs from the agreement with Manitoba, North Dakota and South Dakota as well.

Instead, the University would have a contract arrangement directly with the states to select professional programs. It currently does this with Montana.

Minnesota has a limited reciprocity agreement with Iowa. Heegaard said the Higher Education Services Office will have talks with Iowa to possibly expand the reciprocity agreement.