MADISON, Wis. – Mark J. Bradley, elected last month as president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, announced today that the board will take new steps to ensure educational benefits for veterans.
Bradley has appointed three regents – all Vietnam-era veterans of the U.S. armed forces – to serve as the board’s special representatives on this issue. They will work with legislative leaders, the Governor, state agency staffs, and fellow veterans to find ways to fund veterans’ tuition remission at UW schools and other institutions of higher education.
The regents appointed are:
- Regent Michael J. Falbo of Milwaukee, chairman of Associated Community Development, served in the Army Medic Corps.
- Regent Thomas A. Loftus of Sun Prairie, former United States ambassador and former speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, served as an M.P. in the Army.
- Regent David G. Walsh of Madison, a partner in the Madison office of Foley & Lardner, served as a Lieutenant JG in the U.S. Navy. Walsh recently concluded a two-year term as president of the Board of Regents.
“Our message to veterans is clear. We value your service and we encourage you to take full advantage of the educational benefits to which you are entitled,” said Bradley.
“I can’t think of three better people than Mike Falbo, Tom Loftus and David Walsh to take on this challenge,” said Bradley. “With a seasoned attorney, a respected former legislative leader and a leader in the banking community, these three regents understand the complexities of finance and government. They will be effective advocates for fellow veterans and all UW students.”
Since 2005, when the state legislature first approved the “Wisconsin GI Bill,” the number of qualified veterans and veterans’ dependents seeking this benefit at UW campuses has doubled. In the Fall 2005 semester, 1,205 veterans and dependents received tuition remission at UW campuses. That number swelled to 2,441 in the Spring 2007 semester, with rapid increases forecasted in coming years.
“Welcoming veterans to our campuses, and helping them prepare for successful civilian careers is part of the university’s Growth Agenda for Wisconsin,” said UW System President Kevin P. Reilly. “We want to prepare all state residents for success in the knowledge economy, especially the men and women who have already given so much to secure our nation.”
Beginning in the Fall 2007 semester, veterans will be eligible for a 100% tuition remission, up from 50% in previous years.
The governor’s proposed budget, approved by the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, includes $11.6 million in additional funding to support veterans tuition remission over the next two years. The UW System’s share of that increased funding will be approximately $9.5 million.
Today, enrollment projections show that the UW System will need an estimated $41.8 million in new state funds to fully fund educational benefits for veterans. University leaders expected to continue absorbing $14.2 million of these costs, leaving an unexpected shortfall of more than $18 million over the next two fiscal years.
|Projected costs for UW System veteran tuition remissions, 2007-2009||$41,795,900|
|Expenses that UW System will continue to absorb (lost tuition and fees)||– $14,194,028|
|UW System share of new funding provided in the 2007-09 budget approved by JFC||– $9,459,900|
|UW System’s projected 2-year shortfall||$18,141,972|
“The Board must take an active role in addressing this vexing fiscal challenge,” explained Bradley. “Our goal is to preserve the quality and affordability of higher education for all UW students, including veterans. That requires that we work together to find a shared solution, and an equitable funding model.”