When we are young, we dream about our future and what we will become.  We are excited to spread our wings and see what adventures lie ahead.

If you have children, you have dreams for their future. You want them to thrive, be happy, and have a better life than you could ever imagine.

Often, these aspirations involve getting a degree.  For some, that is a family tradition, while others may be the first in their family to go to college. Both are a great source of pride.

As you think about the future, the cost of college may weigh heavily on your mind.  Stories about student debt grab headlines and can make paying for a degree seem daunting. You want the most value for your dollars.

We care about the cost of college, too, and know it is a priority for our families. We continue to advocate for all UW students to help keep college affordable and give you the critical resources you need to succeed.

We believe a college degree is worth the investment – and the facts support it.

  • It will help you earn more. The data shows someone with a bachelor’s degree earns about $1 million more over their lifetime than someone with a high school diploma.  Where else can you get that type of return on investment?
  • Employers want people with a bachelor’s degree. Virtually all job growth in the U.S. since 2007 has required some form of higher education. The number of jobs that required a bachelor’s degree remained stable during the Great Recession – and today there are 8.1 million more jobs that require a bachelor’s degree than when the recession began.  Unfortunately, workers with a high school diploma or less lost 6.3 million jobs and very few of those jobs have rebounded.
  • The value of a UW System education is undeniable. Students choose us over other schools because we have a world-class reputation, and it is why more than 85% stay in Wisconsin after graduation. Businesses headquarter themselves in our state because they know the UW System produces an innovative and creative workforce. Just this week, the UW System was #13 in Reuters world-wide list that ranks the educational institutions “doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and help drive the global economy.” Our alumni tell us their UW degree has opened doors in their career that would not have been possible otherwise.
  • We are affordable. A degree from the UW System costs less than the national average, and less than all our peers in the Midwest. We cost less than Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.  Your cost-effective degree comes with a world-renowned reputation for developing excellence and talent.
  • Wisconsin really needs you. A college education is not only crucial to your own success, it is also critical to the future of Wisconsin. We have an aging state population with a shrinking labor force and a decline in the state’s birth rate. To help revitalize our economy – an economy that supports everyone, including those without a college degree – we must get more students into and through our educational pipeline. Whether you personally attend a UW System school or not, we have a $15 billion impact on Wisconsin’s economy each year.

To help our families, we included proposals in our budget request to reduce the time it takes to graduate – the most important factor in keeping college affordable. Our 2020FWD initiatives expand college-credit options for high school students, add flexibility in transferring credits, grow business partnerships to help create job opportunities after graduation, and respond to the needs of non-traditional students, such as working adults.

College is an investment of time and money, and we are committed to maintaining the affordable, world-class education you expect and deserve. We are asking our leaders to invest in the UW System for your future, and the future of all our sons and daughters.


Dr. Ray Cross is the seventh president of the University of Wisconsin System. He also served as Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension from 2011-2014. Cross served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam and was awarded four medals for his service.