December 18, 2014

Report suggests increasing financial aid with tuition

Wisconsin’s public and private colleges are hailing a new recommendation that when tuition goes up, financial aid should automatically go up by the same percentage.

The idea comes from the Higher Educational Aids Board, which says the governor and Legislature should increase need-based aid for college students in the next state budget. It says that over 76,000 students were eligible for financial aid this fall, but they got nothing because state funds ran dry.

Need-based financial aid totaled $108 million in the school year which ended in mid-2011. The year before, student aid totaled $98 million.

Rolf Wegenke, the head of Wisconsin’s Independent Colleges-and-Universities, said neighboring Minnesota ranks higher than Wisconsin in the financial aid it gives needy students. As a result, Minnesota has a higher percentage of residents with college degrees, and higher average incomes.

UW System President Kevin Reilly says the new report underscores the value of a college degree and the board benefits of having a stronger workforce.

Kathleen Cullen of the state’s technical college system says financial aid is especially important to her students – many of whom are paying their own way.