Tag: tuition

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Maintaining Quality Education Requires Money

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is offering its opinion on key issues in the gubernatorial race, and K-12 and higher education is the focus of today’s editorial.

The editorial board writes that a tuition freeze is politically popular, but ultimately can harm the university:

. . . the fact is that such a continued freeze could hurt the system’s ability to attract and retain faculty. UW schools are a bargain, with average costs, and quality doesn’t come cheap.

The Journal Sentinel maintains the state should eliminate the tuition freeze while improving funding for UW System.

Governor Walker Reaffirms Support of Tuition Freeze

Governor Scott Walker visited four University of Wisconsin System campuses last week, touting his support for a two-year tuition freeze. Speaking to students in Green Bay, Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Racine, Walker said if elected he would support an additional two-year tuition freeze. Tuition was frozen in 2013 after UW System was found to have about $1 billion in reserve.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that an extended tuition freeze would have a detrimental impact on his campus:

“Another two-year tuition freeze would certainly have a major impact on the finances of UW-Eau Claire. We are already anticipating an additional cut of at least $3 million in the coming year to address the current tuition freeze.”

In Green Bay, Walker told students that he supported affordability over additional financial aid to students:

“We know it’s not just about providing more financial assistance, it’s about providing a great price for a UW education that’s low to begin with.”

At UW-Madison, tuition revenue funds approximately one-quarter of the cost-to-continue. UW System is currently working with the Department of Administration on an estimate of cost-to-continue as part of the state biennial budget process.

When Does the University of Wisconsin Cease to be a Public University?

Mike Brost, a University of Wisconsin-Madison senior from Shorewood, asks in Friday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at what point does a state university cease to be a university?

Brost writes that state spending on higher education has fallen 28 percent since 2008, and UW-Madison receives just 15 percent of its budget from the state. Nationally, as state funding drops, tuition increases — 231 percent over the past 30 years.

At the same time, Brost observes investment in public higher education is a good for the state’s economy:

With $1.2 billion in state funding, the UW System contributes more than $15 billion to Wisconsin’s economy.

Brost argues that if current trends continue, Wisconsin’s funding of higher education will end in 2040.

The full article is here.

 

June Board of Regents Meeting

uw system logoThe University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is meeting at UW-Milwaukee today and tomorrow, June 5 and 6. The regents will meet in committee Thursday morning and in full Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Video and audio stream of the full meetings is available here.

Four new regents are participating in their first meeting — José Delgado, Eve Hall, UW-Madison student Nicolas Harsy, and UW-La Crosse student Anicka Purath.

The board will discuss the 2014-15 annual budget and begin discussion on the 2015-17 biennial budget process. UW System President Ray Cross told the Wisconsin State Journal he expects the current tuition freeze to continue into the 2015-17 biennium. Governor Scott Walker recently expressed support for a continued tuition freeze.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank has repeatedly said she would like to raise professional school tuition to levels similar to peer institutions, but Cross said the timing is not right for such an increase and tuition will be frozen for all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of residency.

The board will also discuss plans to spend down financial reserves. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the current budget will spend down about 15 percent of the reserves, much of it coming from tuition reserves. UW System will carryover about $61 million in unspent tuition in 2014-15, down from $151 million one year ago.

 

Legislative Update

The 2013-14 regular legislative session ended last month and attention has shifted to fall elections.

PROFS was very active in the legislative process, registering positions on bills and maintaining regular contact with key legislators and staff on important issues like compensation, faculty governance, and funding for the university.

Classified Research AB 729, a bill that will allow classified research on UW System campuses, was signed into law. PROFS registered in favor of this bill.

Financial Reserves The legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved a revised plan for managing and disclosing UW System cash balances and fund reserves on May 6. The legislature directed UW System to develop a plan as part of the 2013-15 biennial budget (Act 20), and the Joint Committee on Audit requested additional changes after a plan was presented to them on November 20, 2013. The Board of Regents and audit committee approved those revisions, but the finance committee voted for several changes.

The finance committee-approved plan requires individual campuses that hold more than 12 percent of their total fiscal year expenditures in reserve to provide justification to the regents and submit a spending plan for tuition, auxiliary operations, general operations, and unrestricted program revenue. Campuses are not required to hold a minimum fund balance, but campuses with a deficit must report a savings plan to the regents. The plan approved by the regents and audit committee required minimum reserves of 10 percent and the reporting threshold was triggered when funds exceeded 15 percent of expenditures.

HR Design The legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations approved new personnel plans for UW-Madison and UW System. The legislature directed the university to develop plans to be implemented by July 1, 2015 as part of the 2011-13 biennial budget, but never approved them. Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the committee she plans to request the authority to award merit raises, which are not currently allowed under state statutes.

Tuition Freeze Governor Scott Walker proposed an additional two-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition. The governor said his proposal was a direct result of the recent disclosure that UW System will finish the current fiscal year with about $1 billion in reserve. Last year, the governor called for a two-year tuition freeze after the university was found to have just over $1 billion in reserve.

Voter ID Wisconsin’s voter ID law (2011 Wisconsin Act 23) was struck down April 29. United States District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote in his decision the law places an undue burden on minorities and the poor and violates the Voting Rights Act. Adelman’s ruling bars enforcement of the law. Governor Scott Walker said last month he could call the legislature into special session if the law was overturned, and State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he will appeal the decision. PROFS registered against AB 7, legislation that became the state’s voter ID law in 2011.

Fall Elections The legislature will experience its largest turnover since the 1970’s. Seven state senators and 22 members of the assembly have announced they will not run for reelection. Legislators must declare non-candidacy by May 23, and nomination papers must be filed by June 2.

The Legislative Reference Bureau has prepared a bulletin on tenure and turnover in the Wisconsin Legislature between 1940 and 2012.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Additional Two-Year Tuition Freeze

The editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel offered its opinion on Governor Walker’s proposal to extend the current tuition freeze for two additional years. University of Wisconsin System campuses are currently in the first year of a two-year tuition freeze implemented as part of the 2013-15 biennial budget.

The editorial notes that continuing the freeze will be popular with students and their families, but seems opportunistic in an election year. The freeze also raises important questions about how the state intends to fund UW System in the future:

Wisconsin students deserve affordability, but they also deserve a quality education — the kind of education the system has provided throughout its history. And a quality system requires quality faculty, staff and research facilities. Which, in turn, means paying competitive salaries and providing adequate funding for those facilities.

UW System President Ray Cross told the Journal Sentinel last week that he thought an additional one-year tuition freeze might be possible given current financial reserves, but a two-year freeze was unexpected. The editorial concludes that a one-year freeze with greater management flexibilities might have made more sense:

That strikes us as the more prudent option, unless the state is willing to come up with additional funding for the university to maintain affordability and quality for students. What the universities need is greater flexibility from state control — not more, mindless, politicized control. As we asked earlier: What sort of university system does the state want? Let your governor and legislators know.

Your opinion is important. Information on how to contact the governor or your legislators is here.

Governor Walker Proposes Additional 2-Year Tuition Freeze

Governor Scott Walker announced Friday morning that he would propose an additional two-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition. The governor said his proposal was a direct result of the recent disclosure that UW System will finish the fiscal year with about $1 billion in reserve. Last year, the governor called for a two-year tuition freeze after the university was found to have just over $1 billion in reserve.

The governor’s plan came as a surprise as the UW System Board of Regents met for a second day in a regularly scheduled meeting. UW System President Ray Cross responded quickly, saying that he will continue his work with the governor and legislature while thoughtfully and judiciously managing and explaining UW System resources. Cross told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he had discussed the possibility of a one-year extension of the tuition freeze with the governor’s staff about a month ago, but the conversation had been casual.

The Regent Audit Committee and Budget and Finance Committee met Thursday morning and revealed cash balance projections for FY 2013-14. UW System will finish the year with almost $1.1 billion in reserve, about half coming from tuition.

UW System officials say that about 80 percent of the funds are committed on some level (see below). UW-Madison’s share of the reserve is about $600 million, and Cross told the Journal Sentinel that UW-Madison is among the handful of campuses that could survive three to four years on cash balances without implementing major budget cuts.

fy 2013-14 reserves

Sifting and Winnowing: Reframing the Conversation About Tuition

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.

WISCAPE to Sponsor Forum on Tuition Freeze

WISCAPE, the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, is sponsoring a public forum on the proposed two-year tuition freeze for UW System campuses. Governor Scott Walker proposed the freeze after UW System was found to have almost $650…

Governor Walker Says He Will Make Changes to UW Budget

Governor Scott Walker said yesterday that he intends to make changes to his 2013-15 biennial budget recommendation for the University of Wisconsin System. Details are expected in the next seven to ten days. The governor’s original budget proposal for UW…