Equal tuition for equal education

Minnesota residents still pay more to attend the University than Wisconsin residents.

For years University administrators and state law-makers alike have tried to close the tuition disparity between resident students and out-of-state reciprocity students attending the University. So what’s the hold-up?

The reality is that the state government needs and expects resident students to foot the bill for the cost of maintaining the University. Leveling Minnesota tuition with Wisconsin tuition would create a $7 million hole in the state’s general fund, placing tuition equity low on the priority list of the state.

The reciprocity program began as a way to allow students in the Midwest to more easily attend college in other area states. It was a way to improve access for students and allow them to study fields that might not be offered at institutions in their home states. As Minnesota tuition has skyrocketed it seems reciprocity has become a way for out-of-staters to take advantage of what Minnesota has to offer at the cost to the residents of the state.

At the end of last month the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the governor’s office did what they have always done regarding reciprocity unfairness – they talked about talking about changes to program.

Sadly, this is a discussion the University community should not even have to have. Because of the onerous budget cuts and irresponsible education policy of the Pawlenty administration, the University has been forced to look inward to fund its agenda. The fact that Wisconsin students who participate in the reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin pay about $1,000 less per semester is a constant reminder of just that.

In the long run, reciprocity agreements are good for the University because they increase student choice and diversity – Minnesota has eight reciprocity agreements with other states whereas most other universities have none. However, make no mistake, students who hail from the Gopher State should not pay more for the equal education received by those who come from out of state. At this rate things are unlikely to change anytime soon.