MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin System students will have to pay hundreds of dollars more to attend classes next year under a plan system officials overwhelmingly approved Thursday.
The Board of Regents voted during a meeting at UW-Stout to adopt system President Jay Rothman's proposal to increase student tuition, fees and room and board rates beginning this fall.
The tuition increase is the first since Republican legislators lifted an eight-year freeze on rates in 2021. The regents elected not to impose any increases last year as the state was emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rothman has argued that rising inflation, more expensive food contracts, increasing utility costs, construction projects and unfunded pay plans have forced the system to make a move now. What's more, Gov. Tony Evers' budget 2023-25 budget proposal would leave the system about $130 million short of what regents say they need over the next two years.
“How many businesses have not raised their prices in 10 years?” said Regent Scott Beightol, chairperson of the board’s finance committee. “Nobody. It’s time we use this lever at the university.”
Regent Rodney Pasch cast the lone dissenting vote. He said that he understands the system needs to raise more money but Rothman's proposal is too much for struggling students, who will be forced to dip deeper into their savings, work more hours or go into debt to meet the rising costs. He added that raising tuition isn't a good look when more people are questioning the value of a college degree.
“We do need an annual increase in tuition,” he said, (but it) should be something less (than Rothman's plan)."
Under the plan, the average annual cost for most in-state undergraduate students living on four-year campuses will increase an average of 4.2%, or about $706 per year. The average annual cost at the system's two-year schools will increase about 6.3%, or about $329 per year.
UW-River Falls students will have to contend with an $822 annual increase, the highest among all system institutions, according to system figures. UW-Green Bay students will face a $796 increase per year. Students at UW-Madison will see a $669 annual increase. UW-Milwaukee students will have to pay an additional $743 per year.
Tuition rates for out-of-state undergraduates would go up as well. UW-Madison will raise its rates by 3.3%, or about $1,137. UW-Milwaukee's rate will go up 2.5%, or about $498.