Sifting and Winnowing, an independent blog for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offers a new view on tuition today. The anonymous writer of the blog post argues that resident tuition could be viewed as nothing more than state-subsidized non-resident tuition. When viewed this way, changes in state support will directly and more transparently affect the cost of tuition:
1. Let the overall budgetary needs of the University, constrained by market considerations (e.g., comparisons to peer universities) and/or a voluntary growth cap, objectively determine out-of-state tuition.
2. Let the state subsidy to the University, divided among the number of in-state students, objectively determine the reduction in in-state tuition relative to the out-of-state cost.
With tuition decisions framed in this way, reductions in state GPR will no longer destabilize overall university finances as they have for the past decade, but they will be much more visibly linked to reductions in affordability and/or access for in-state students.