MADISON ―The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will vote on the university’s operating budget for fiscal year 2004-05 at its meeting Thursday (June 10) in Milwaukee.

The proposed budget, effective July 1, follows the guidelines for the 2003-05 state biennial budget proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle and approved by both houses of the Legislature. It implements the second phase of the $250 million in state funding cuts to the UW’s operational and instructional budgets, and raises tuition by $350 per semester at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee, and $250 per semester at all other UW campuses.

“Our overall annual state support in the past two years has fallen $88 million, while fixed costs have increased by $52 million,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall. “While tuition has made up for some of the loss in state dollars, our campuses and their students have still seen major, painful cuts.

“State funding in this budget will now account for 25.5 percent of the overall university budget ―the lowest percentage of state support in the history of the university,” Lyall added. “It will challenge us to maintain our enrollments at the current levels (160,895).”

The proposed budget also includes a 1 percent pay increase for all UW System employees, including chancellors and provosts, which follows a zero percent increase this past year.

“We are very concerned about our ability to retain and recruit our faculty and staff, given these tight budgets,” said Toby E. Marcovich, president of the UW Board of Regents. “We are already seeing the defection of some critical faculty, such as (UW-Madison political science professor) Don Kettl, who is one of the foremost experts on Wisconsin’s fiscal policies.

“We will be working with the Governor and legislators to make sure the university regains some of the ground it lost in the next biennium, or this trickle could turn into a flood that would greatly erode our quality.”

The proposed 2004-05 budget also includes average room and board increases of 5 percent. It includes average segregated fee increases of 4.9 percent for the 13 four-year institutions, and 5.5 percent for the 13 freshman-sophomore UW Colleges.

“Even with the tuition and fee increases, our rates remain below those of our peers,” Lyall said. “Nevertheless, there is a limit to how much we can ask our students to pick up costs that have historically been provided by the state.

“We are especially concerned about the availability of financial aid, which is being provided this year through a one-time use of auxiliary funds from the university, rather than state funds, which normally cover this cost,” Lyall added. “We are particularly worried about the trends we are observing with the drop-off in enrollments of students from lower-income families.”

The proposed budget contains no new initiatives and a reduction in funding for utilities ―despite a more than $10 million shortfall in utility funding going into this year. It also includes an additional $5 million cut in state funding that will lapse for this year and be restored to the UW’s budget next year.  The campuses also are required by regent policy to reallocate $14.5 million for instructional technology.

“This state is paying more than $25,000 per year to house each inmate in Corrections and a quarter of that ―about $6,000 a year ―to educate each UW student,” Lyall said. “I think that is a troubling statement of priorities, given that our graduates are the future professional workforce and taxpayers of Wisconsin.”

Total tuition and segregated fees for resident undergraduates at comprehensive campuses will range from $2,285 per semester at UW-Stevens Point to $2,577 at UW-Green Bay. Resident undergraduates at the UW Colleges will pay an average of about $1,950 per semester in total fees and tuition. At UW-Milwaukee, the per semester cost will be $2,915, while tuition and fees for UW-Madison resident undergraduates will be $2,931 per semester.

View details on the UW’s 2004-05 budget, including tuition and fee schedules [pdf] (Best viewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0. Download a free version at Adobe’s website)


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Doug Bradley UW System 608-265-0548