University of Wisconsin director to seek 5% tuition hike from governors

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University of Wisconsin system students would face a 5% tuition increase next year under a plan unveiled Thursday by system president Jay Rothman.

Rothman told the State Senate’s universities committee that he will ask the Board of Regents at their meeting in April to approve the increase for the 2023-24 academic year. If approved, the increase would mark the first time in a decade that tuition for in-state undergraduates has changed.

Rothman estimated the tuition increase would raise about $38 million annually. Most of it would cover a 4% system pay increase in each of the next two fiscal years, he said.


Rothman did not provide further details about the promotion. UW System spokesman Mark Pitsch did not immediately respond to an email seeking more information about how the increase would apply system-wide.

Republican lawmakers froze tuition for in-state undergraduates in 2013 but lifted the freeze in 2021, opening the door for governors to raise rates if they choose. The board has not imposed any raises so far, relying on federal pandemic relief funds to cover costs.

Current undergraduate tuition for Wisconsin residents ranges from about $4,750 annually at the system’s two-year schools to about $9,275 at UW-Madison, the system’s flagship four-year university, which according to the system figures. These costs do not include student fees and living expenses.

University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman has requested a 5% tuition increase from governors.

University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman has requested a 5% tuition increase from governors.

But like all other sectors, there is an increase in inflation in the system, and the budget of Gov. Tony Evers the system is about $130 million short of what the governors say they need to run their campuses over the next two years.

Rothman said most of the pandemic relief money was wasted and helped stem tuition increases but masked the system’s financial challenges. High inflation over the past year has hurt the spending power of the system and financial uncertainty is growing later in 2023 for the entire country.

Republican state representative David Murphy, who chairs the universities committee, has written a bill that would limit system tuition increases at the rate of inflation. The proposal has yet to be heard.

He told Rothman that he never thought inflation would rise above 5%. He asked Rothman if he thought the bill was reasonable. Rothman said that the aim was not to ensure that the increase would come below the rate of inflation, and that system leaders wanted to be “reasonable and focus on a reasonable price”.


Rothman later said he is “extremely aware” of the rising costs of students. He pointed to the Wisconsin Tuition Promise, a proposal to provide four years of tuition and fees to students who come from families earning less than $62,000. Evers’ budget would provide $25 million for the program.

The pledge program would not extend to UW-Madison students. That school implemented its own program to cover tuition for low-income students in 2018.

State Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Democrat whose district includes UW-Stevens Point, said she is concerned about students from families making more than $62,000.

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She said many students attend the system’s regional campuses like UW-Stevens Point because of the low cost, and an increase could mean a student doesn’t eat a third meal a day or can’t afford the last class required to be taken. graduation The Legislature’s finance committee must commit to more state aid to the system when it reviews Evers’ budget this spring, she said.

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