MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents is scheduled to approve an annual operating budget and set tuition rates for the 2008-09 academic year at this week’s meeting in Milwaukee. The recommended tuition increases mirror those approved for the current academic year.

UW System President Kevin P. Reilly will recommend an operating budget based on the state’s 2007-09 biennial budget, approved last year with bipartisan legislative support. That two-year spending plan provided resources to sustain current academic programs while also making targeted investments in 2008-09 to help the university expand the number of seats in UW classrooms and boost job-creating university research.

Along with that investment, the UW System was also required to absorb a $25 million funding lapse as part of the state’s biennial budget. In addition, the UW System now plans to absorb some portion of the $270 million lapse for all state agencies, imposed because of lower-than-projected state revenues. The amount of UW’s share has not yet been determined.

“We’ve received tremendous statewide response to the Growth Agenda for Wisconsin,” said Reilly. “With support from Governor Doyle and legislators on both sides of the political aisle, our institutions – and the communities they serve – are moving forward with vital initiatives to enroll and retain more college students, produce more college graduates for Wisconsin’s workforce, and stimulate the development of new high-growth businesses.”

Reilly’s proposed budget would freeze tuition for the second consecutive year for 12,500 resident students enrolled at 13 freshman-sophomore UW Colleges campuses. Resident undergraduate students at the four-year UW campuses would see annual increases of $265 to $348.

With UW Colleges tuition rates frozen at 2006 levels, the 13 freshman-sophomore campuses will maintain their longstanding reputation as the UW System’s most affordable choice for incoming students, who can then complete their baccalaureate degree at any four-year UW campus. University leaders are working to keep these campuses competitively priced.

“Families and students look to us to preserve the educational quality and service they expect. With that in mind, it’s critical we make prudent budget and tuition decisions that sustain access and quality, and keep the Growth Agenda moving forward,” said Reilly. “I’m pleased that our institutions are working with state leaders to manage significant budget lapses and revenue shortages in ways that preserve their ability to reinvigorate the economic vitality of our state and build capacity for the future.”

Even as the Regents consider adjusting tuition rates for the coming year, students will benefit from the state’s increased investment in need-based financial aid. Funding for the Wisconsin Higher Education Grant (WHEG) program, a state-supported source of financial aid, will increase by 10% to $55 million for the 2008-09 academic year.

The state’s growing investment in need-based aid is further enhanced by new private funding, including a $40 million grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation to the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation, which will begin providing financial aid to students starting in 2011. Privately-funded financial aid will be available this coming year from the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, established through a $175 million gift from John and Tashia Morgridge. The Fund will award approximately 1,200 grants worth $3.25 million during the 2008-09 school year, for students attending UW System campuses and the Wisconsin Technical Colleges.

“The landscape of higher education is changing – for our institutions and our students. As state funding has lagged, students have picked up a larger share of the costs. That changing environment dictates that we look at things differently,” said Mark J. Bradley, president of the UW System Board of Regents. “Predictable, modest increases in tuition are appropriate. However, even the most routine discussion about tuition must include an intense focus on financial aid. At a time when our state desperately needs more college-educated workers, we cannot risk losing any college-bound students who might be shut out by the lack of available financial aid.”

The recommended $348 annual tuition increase at UW-Madison is lower than the average increase at other Big 10 universities. If approved, tuition at UW-Madison would remain the second-lowest among these Big 10 peer universities.

“This plan will ensure students throughout the UW System, at all 26 campuses, will continue to receive a top-notch, competitively priced education,” said Reilly. “We can be especially proud of our unprecedented effort to hold tuition steady for thousands of UW Colleges students – holding the doors wide open to all those who wish to invest in their future.”

Annual Tuition Increases Recommended for the 2008-09 Academic Year

5.5% total recommended annual increase for resident undergraduate students

Total proposed annual tuition for 2008-09

11 Four-Year
Comprehensive Campuses

for 67,594 students



for 23,455 students



for 20,026 students


13 Freshman/Sophomore
UW Colleges

No increase for second consecutive year
for 12,568 students


The 5.5 percent tuition increase will fund many of the university’s ongoing financial and operational commitments. Of the total 5.5 percent proposed increase, 3 percent will go toward the state-mandated veterans’ tuition remissions program, and 1.6 percent will fund Growth Agenda Initiatives, including those designed to increase enrollments and enhance graduation rates. Other contributing factors include increased costs for employee salaries and health insurance benefits (0.5 percent), student technology fees (0.2 percent) and utilities for the UW System’s 59 million square feet of facilities (0.2 percent).

During this meeting, the Board of Regents will also consider a resolution urging the State of Wisconsin to fully fund the veterans’ tuition remission program. Such action would alleviate the need for tuition support of this program in the future.

Media Contact

David Giroux UW System (608) 262-4464