MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents on Thursday (July 10) approved a 2003-04 budget that shows the effects of $110 million in state funding cuts and raises tuition to maintain access and quality for students.

Under the new spending plan, state support will comprise just 27.3 percent of the UW System budget in 2003-04, a decrease from 30.9 percent in 2002-03. In 1973-74, the first full year of operation for the UW System, state support comprised 49.9 percent of the university budget. New student tuition dollars are making up for some of the state funding decline.

In setting the budget, the UW System followed a board-approved set of principles that helped guide the budget reduction, while maintaining the UW’s long-term capacity to serve students and the state.

“True to our word, we have done the best we can with this budget to preserve academic quality and keep the UW System accessible to Wisconsin students,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall.

Nevertheless, the budget report outlines the effects of the cuts by institution, including fewer courses, larger class sizes, reduced numbers of faculty and staff, and diminished ability to implement or continue important economic development initiatives, Lyall noted.

The $3.669 billion budget for 2003-04 includes funding from state general purpose revenue (GPR), tuition and fees, and outside sources, such as federal grants and contracts, federal aid and gift funds.

In an effort to narrow the state’s $3.2 billion deficit as part of the 2003-05 biennial budget, Gov. James Doyle proposed, and the Legislature passed, a $250 million GPR reduction for the UW System—the largest cut in the system’s history. The UW System will take the remaining $140 million in cuts in 2004-05.

“Our campuses have met an incredible challenge in crafting this budget,” Lyall said.

The annual operating budget includes an increase in tuition rates, which will provide $50 million to offset budget cuts for the 2003-04 academic year. The offset will be generated through tuition increases of $250 per semester at the comprehensive universities and the UW Colleges, and $350 per semester at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee in each of the next two years.

“While these are significant tuition increases, they are vital so that UW students continue to receive a high-quality education and access to the courses they need to graduate,” said Regent President Toby Marcovich of Superior. “It is important to note that financial aid is increasing to help our neediest students cope with tuition increases.”

The tuition increase applies to resident and nonresident students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Medical School and Veterinary Medicine tuition are the highest in the nation for resident students and will remain at 2002-03 levels. Room rates will increase $145 on average and meals plans will increase an average of $54.

Since 1991-92, funding from sources other than the state and tuition revenue has accounted for more than half of the UW System budget, such as grants from federal agencies for specific research projects and revenue from residence hall operations.

The state allocation to the UW System for 2003-04 takes into account slight increases for unavoidable costs, including utility fee increases, new debt service on buildings and rising fringe benefit costs.

The 2003-04 budget also reflects a reduction of 629 state-supported positions in the UW System, equal to nearly all of the net state position eliminations.

After approving the 2003-04 budget, the Board of Regents held a retreat to begin its study of the university, titled “Charting a New Course for the UW System.” The study will examine the UW’s future during a period of declining state support.

“This latest budget experience shows how vital state support is to our operation and compels us to look at new solutions to preserve the UW System as one of the state’s greatest assets,” Lyall said.

Media Contact

Erik Christianson UW System 608-262-5061