Colleges in Wisconsin want some of that stimulus money to help students.
"The students have the same needs as the general public. They or their parents may have lost their job, they may have lost their homes with the mortgage crisis, they need help. If we don't help them now we'll lose a generation of students and this state's going to go backward."
Rolf Wegenke, Ph.D., President/CEO of Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities ( WAICU ) says he realizes Wisconsin has a huge budget deficit, but spending money on education is good for the state. Wegenke (pronounce) says educated folks make more money, spend more, and pay more taxes to the state.
"So the state is going to benefit in the future: a stronger economy, better jobs, better incomes, more tax revenue if they invest in students now."
By comparison, Minnesota gives nearly double the amount of means-tested financial aid to their students than we do in Wisconsin. Also, Wegenke says there's a financial aid disparity between colleges within our state. Over the last six years, funding has gone up an average of 18% per year at the UW colleges, but less than 4% at the tech schools and less than 3% at the state's private colleges.
Wegenke is not suggesting a cut in aid for UW students. In fact, he is advocating a $24-million increase. Also, he'd like an additional $14- million for tech schools and $9-million for private. He says that's just a small portion of what is needed, but it's realistic.
"To meet full unmet needs – just the private college students in Wisconsin – we need $99-million. We know we're not going to get that. And there are similar gargantuan figures for UW students and for technical college students.
Wegenke adds, technical and private colleges serve a larger percentage of low-income students, so they have a greater need for more funding.
WAICU was founded in 1961 and is the official organization of Wisconsin's 20 private colleges and universities and their 58,000 students.