Wisconsin admissions halt creates two-week transfer application delay

by Elizabeth Putnam

University students waiting for word on their transfer applications to Wisconsin universities will have to wait two weeks longer for acceptance or denial letters.

Facing fiscal constraints from Wisconsin legislators, the University of Wisconsin system Board of Regents halted the admissions process for all 26 schools for two weeks this month.

But the board lifted the freeze Friday after receiving a promise from Wisconsin Senate Democrats to cut Wisconsin higher education as little as possible.

State representatives proposed cutting the university’s budget by more than $100 million – a direct result of the state’s $1.1 billion budget deficit over the next two years.

The transfer process to a Wisconsin state school has been delayed by approximately two weeks due to the system’s March 8 decision to close admission during legislative deliberations.

Transfer students were the most affected by the freeze, said Keith White, University of Wisconsin admissions director.

“There are literally thousands of transfer applications being delayed,” White said.

The UW system sent an open letter to high school students, their families and guidance counselors last week to explain the freeze.

According to the letter, besides the large cut in state funding, the Wisconsin representatives want to cap tuition at 8 percent for the 2002-03 school year, which is a loss of $10 million to the system.

UW system officials say they are also dealing with an overload of applications.

The system has already admitted 2,500 more freshmen for 2002-03 than it did last year.

When admissions froze, 97 percent of freshman applications had been processed at UW-Madison, White said.

The Madison campus receives nearly 20,000 applications annually but only accepts approximately 5,700 students.

The admissions process varies on each campus, but several other campuses had passed their application deadlines. UW-Madison’s application deadline was Feb. 1.

Kent Barrett, Madison campus spokesman, said there is a mixture of applicants, from international students to transfer students, whose applications will be delayed.

“There are many students who have not made it out of the application pipeline,” Barrett said. “But we hope to continue the process as soon as possible.”

UW-Madison places some applicants in a waiting pool until an accurate portrait of all applicants can be generated based on grade point averages and ACT scores. Only a few students will be accepted from the pool.

White said no student in the pool has been notified of his or her status.

Although tuition has been steadily increasing nationwide since the early 1990s, students can expect bigger increases next year.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, tuition has risen 4 percent annually over the last 5 years nationwide, and tuition will increase at some public institutions as much as 20 percent.

The University is looking at a 13.8 percent tuition increase for 2002-03.

University President Mark Yudof has warned Minnesotans for months about the national trend of increasing tuition.

Minnesota’s recent $2 billion budget deficit has also caused concern among University officials.

But UW system officials said they are “not playing a political game with admissions.”

“The firestorm of public scrutiny has subsided into a steady stream,” White said. “I’m confident that the board will iron the problems.”

Elizabeth Putnam welcomes comments at [email protected]