MADISON – The 1998-99 operating budget for the University of Wisconsin System to be allocated to the campuses by the Board of Regents here June 4-5 contains an increase of $180 per student in state funding and a tuition increase of $70 per semester for resident undergraduate students at UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and at the 13 UW Colleges campuses, and $57 per semester at the 11 comprehensive campuses.
The increase for the second year of the UW System biennial budget is less than was forecast when the two-year plan went into effect last July 1, said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall. “We were able to reduce the amount of increase by about $30 per semester, in great part because of Wisconsin’s healthy economy and higher than projected revenue collections,” she said. “That, in turn, allowed the Legislature to fund a greater share of unclassified compensation adjustments during the biennium.”
Through tuition, resident undergraduates pay about 36 percent of their direct instructional costs; state general purpose revenue (GPR) provides the remainder. Non-resident tuition is about 130 percent of instructional costs, and helps offset a portion of these costs for resident students.
“Tuition increases of $57 to $70 per semester are necessary to ensure quality in the UW System,” Lyall said. “Approximately 20 percent of the increase will go to ongoing commitments, about 10 percent will be used for new technology or new educational initiatives, and about 70 percent will be used for faculty and staff compensation.”
Lyall said the proposed tuition schedule still leaves UW System institutions below the mid-point and in the same relative position for tuition costs among their respective peer institutions. For example, UW-Madison has the second-lowest resident undergraduate tuition costs in the Big 10, ahead of only the University of Iowa.
The proposed tuition schedule includes non-resident increases of $292 per semester for undergraduates at UW-Madison; $284 at UW-Milwaukee, $227 at the comprehensive campuses, and $274 at UW Colleges.
As the 1997-99 biennial budget was formed, UW System tuition was projected to rise at a 7 percent average annual rate. For the 1997-99 academic year, tuition rose 7.9 percent; the proposed 1998-99 increase is 4.9 percent.
The tuition ranking of UW System institutions among peer institutions parallels compensation costs, Lyall said. “For the UW System to maintain its reputation into the next century for world-class quality education, we must attract and retain world-class faculty,” she said. “As the percentage of the state budget devoted to higher education declines and GPR is allocated to other state needs, students are asked to assume a larger share of the cost to maintain quality because they are the ones who will most directly benefit.”
The UW System has one of the nation’s lowest administrative cost ratios in the nation, currently below 6 percent – half the level of administrative expenses of many of its peer public university systems in the nation. “Our low administrative overhead also helps keep tuition costs down,” Lyall noted.
Allocations to the UW System from state government for resident undergraduate tuition has a dramatic effect on costs, according to Lyall. A $4-million appropriation in the biennial budget reduced the 1998-99 tuition increase by a full percentage. “I know I speak for students and their families in saying we are grateful for that support,” Lyall added.
Overall, the UW System 1998-99 annual operating budget is recommended to increase by $25.6 million, or 2.9 percent, over the current $879.8 million annual operating budget. Approximately one-third of the UW System budget is funded by state GPR dollars.
Attachment: UW System Proposed 1998-99 Tuition Schedule
Peter D. Fox