Governor Scott Walker’s proposed state budget will include a tuition cut for University of Wisconsin resident undergraduate students, while also increasing funding for the UW System
The plan calls for continuing to freeze tuition in the first year of the biennium, and then making a five percent cut in the second year. Walker said a $135 million funding increase will help pay for the cut and other needs, some of which would be performance-based. Overall, Walker said the tuition cut would save the typical student about $360 annually.
The governor also wants to let UW students opt-out of paying some of the fees that help support student activities on campus – and require the System to offer three-year degree options.
Republican leaders in the Legislature have already expressed some reservations about the plan. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has said increasing financial aid would be more effective in helping students who need assistance. Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has also indicated the proposal needs more discussion and, while he’s not ruling out supporting a tuition cut, he has also not seen significant enthusiasm for one within his caucus.
Walker’s proposal did draw praise from UW System and campus officials. System President Ray Cross said the plan reflects many of the priorities outlined in their own strategic framework, while Board of Regents President Regina Millner said they appreciate the investment. “As Regents, we have a strong responsibility to keep the UW System affordable and accessible for Wisconsin families while protecting the quality and excellence for which we are known the world over,” she said in a statement.
UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank also expressed appreciation for the proposed investment, saying the increased funding will “allow us to continue the important work of providing students with a world-class education and engaging in research that helps grow the economy and improve citizen’s health and well-being.”
Blank said Walker’s plan does include several policy proposal, which will need to be reviewed.
The governor will deliver his full budget to lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m., during a speech at the Capitol.