Our tuition proposals to the Board of Regents

Update: The UW System Board of Regents unanimously approved the proposal on Dec. 7.

At a meeting later this week, I will be asking the UW System Board of Regents to approve a tuition plan for the next two years affecting non-resident undergraduates and some professional school students.

Our rankings place us among an elite group of universities. U.S. News & World Report ranked UW-Madison 15th in the nation among public universities, and tied for 49th overall. Our research ranking is 6th in the nation, according to the National Science Foundation.

To our students and alumni, this means that the value of a Wisconsin degree is high, and our reputation for excellence opens doors when it comes to jobs and internships. One of my goals is to maintain our quality and the value of your investment long-term.

The increase we are requesting for non-resident (including international, but not Minnesota) students is 2.3 percent in each of the next two years. This is below the average annual increase of 3 percent for our peer institutions.

This would raise tuition by $810 in the first year, and $828 in the second year, and bring our non-resident undergrad tuition (with the current seg fee rate) to $38,443 by the 2020-21 school year. This would still be almost $10,000 less than the current non-resident tuition and fees for University of Michigan and about $1,200 less than Michigan State. It leaves us about $16,000 below Northwestern’s tuition, which is on par with most private schools.

We want to make sure that tuition increases do not change the likelihood of students attending. That’s why we put at least 20 percent of the revenue from tuition increases back into financial aid available to eligible students.

We agree with the need to keep college affordable, the primary goal of the in-state tuition freeze that has been in place for six years now.  But since the freeze was first put in place we’ve made important strides in affordability for lower income families. In the last two years we’ve launched initiatives like the Badger Promise and Bucky’s Tuition Promise which have essentially eliminated tuition costs for almost 800 low-income students in Wisconsin – nearly 20 percent of our incoming Wisconsin students. As we continue to grow our commitment to affordability, it seems reasonable for policymakers to consider modest and predictable tuition increases for in-state students, as our peer institutions have been doing, to ensure that we have the resources to fully staff classes and advisors so that our students continue to receive a world-class education.

Our tuition and seg fee cost for resident undergraduates, $10,556, is relatively low. For 2018-19, the average in-state undergraduate tuition and seg fees for Big 10 universities is $12,855. The median is $12,593. We rank 10th among the 14 Big 10 universities in in-state tuition.

Using current nonresident enrollments, we estimate that the proposal to raise non-resident tuition would generate $16.1 million in additional funding over the next two years. The additional revenue will fund critical new faculty and staff positions, as well as provide funds for high quality programs and experiences for students.

In addition to a modest increase in out-of-state tuition for undergraduates, we’re also seeking approval to raise tuition in six professional schools: Business, Pharmacy, Medicine and Public Health, Law, Veterinary Medicine, and Nursing. The proposed increases break down can be viewed here.

The advanced degree programs at our professional schools have built excellent national reputations but are priced below their peers. This limits their ability to offer the same services and educational experience as those with whom they compete. With the proposed increases, the cost of attending a professional school at UW-Madison will still be below the median tuition levels among peer and competitor universities.

If you’d like to read the full proposal to the Board of Regents, which provides more information on relative tuition levels and these proposed increases, please click here.