Proposal extends tuition freeze at 13 UW Colleges for fourth consecutive year

Grants available to offset increases for low- and middle-income students

MADISON – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will approve an operating budget and set tuition rates for the 2010-11 academic year this week in Milwaukee.

In the second year of a tough State budget, the UW System continues to implement $255 million in mandatory funding cuts and reallocations. Additional tuition revenues will help address a portion of that shortfall, but furloughs for faculty and staff will continue for another year, and all UW institutions are managing funding reductions to a wide range of academic programs, student support services, research projects, and community outreach programs.

“We’ve worked hard in recent years to keep tuition increases reasonable and predictable. In the face of major financial challenges, we have successfully avoided double-digit tuition increases, across-the-board enrollment caps, and other drastic measures. At the same time, we’ve preserved affordable access to a high-quality college education, as well as the university’s ability to engage in world-class research,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly.

For the fourth consecutive year, Reilly has proposed a 5.5% average tuition increase for resident undergraduates at the UW System’s four-year campuses. Reilly recommended a tuition freeze for the UW Colleges, keeping tuition at 2006 levels for more than 13,000 students enrolled at the UW’s 13 freshman-sophomore campuses.

If the new rates are approved, UW tuition would remain very competitive:

  • UW-Madison tuition would remain second lowest in the Big 10.
  • UW-Milwaukee tuition would rank 12th out of 15 peer universities.
  • Average tuition at UW System’s 11 four-year comprehensive universities would rank 30th among tuition at 35 comparable regional universities.
  • Tuition at the UW Colleges would be nearly identical to tuition at Wisconsin Technical Colleges that offer comparable liberal arts transfer programs.

“As we review all the details of this complex budget, the Regents will want to ensure that UW System schools continue to offer a solid value, in terms of both quality and price. We are mindful that students and their families face tough choices about their personal finances at this time, so financial aid will be a big part of our discussion. On that front, we are encouraged that additional sources of aid are becoming available this year,” said Regent President Chuck Pruitt.

About two-thirds of all UW System undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid, and about half of those receive at least one outright grant or scholarship.

According to the 2009 College Board report, “Trends in College Pricing,” a typical public university student receives significant aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and federal tax benefits. These sources reduce the “net cost” of college. However, many families may not be pursuing available aid or considering it in their decisions about college. A recent poll shows that students and parents often rule out schools based solely on the published sticker price, without considering the impact of financial aid programs.

Wisconsin Higher Education Grant (WHEG) awards and Federal Pell Grants comprise the largest sources of student aid at UW institutions. One out of every five resident undergraduate UW students received a WHEG award last year, with an average award of $2,024.  State funding for WHEG-UW will increase by $3.3 million next year.

A similar number of students received Pell Grants last year, with an average award of $3,065. The maximum award for Pell Grant recipients is scheduled to increase by $200 in 2010-11, up to $5,550. However, Congress must first act to address a funding gap in the program.

In addition to other state and federal aid programs, the UW System will provide more than $8 million in special grants next year to offset tuition increases. To be eligible, students must come from families earning less than the state median income ($60,000) and have documented financial need. Those who receive a WHEG award are not eligible.

New private investments are offering additional aid. Nearly 2,000 UW students received $3.4 million in new need-based assistance from the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars (FFWS) during the 2008-09 academic year. A second cohort of students in the 2009-10 academic year received an additional $4.27 million in FFWS assistance, and a third cohort of students will enroll at UW schools this fall with aid from FFWS.

Proposed Tuition Rates for 2010-11 Academic Year
Annual Tuition

in 2010-11

Increase from 2009-10
UW-Eau Claire*
UW-Green Bay
UW-La Crosse*
UW-River Falls*
UW-Stevens Point
UW Colleges
(13 campuses)
*Tuition listed includes campus-wide student-supported differential tuitions previously approved by the Board of Regents. At UW-La Crosse, first-, second-, and third-year students pay the higher rate shown, while fourth-year returning students pay the lower amount.
‡Tuition at UW-Stout would increase by the same rate (5.5%). UW-Stout tuition is charged on a “per-credit” basis. The increase shown is based on a student carrying 14 credits per semester.

Media Contact

David Giroux UW System (608) 262-4464