Wis. students may pay more to attend U of M

  • Article by: SCOTT BAUER
  • Associated Press
  • March 31, 2011 - 4:35 PM

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin college students would have to pay more to attend the University of Minnesota under a proposal backed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that his administration announced Thursday.

Walker is asking the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee to approve a change to the two states' 43-year-old tuition reciprocity program that would save Wisconsin money by making students who go to Minnesota pay more.

The reciprocity program allows Wisconsin and Minnesota college-bound students to pay instate tuition even if they attend public universities in the other state. This year it costs about $3,000 more in tuition and fees to attend the University of Minnesota than it does to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Under the deal, the state of Wisconsin makes up the difference for students who decide to go to Minnesota.

That subsidy would end under Walker's proposal, which means Wisconsin students would have to pay all of the higher Minnesota resident tuition.

"We don't think taxpayers should pay more to send Wisconsin students to an out-of-state college than they would for an in-state college," said Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie.

The agreement to end the deal was reached earlier this year by Wisconsin's Higher Educational Aids Board, which runs the program, and the state of Minnesota. A spokeswoman for the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office had no immediate comment.

"Administratively it is a nightmare to keep track of all the students and come up with the additional tuition they owe," said the Wisconsin board's interim administrator Sherrie Nelson, at a Thursday budget briefing before the Joint Finance Committee. She said given the cost of the program, the state felt it was best to "take the burden off the state" and have the students pick up the cost.

Walker estimated the state would save $12 million a year by eliminating the subsidy, but Nelson said the savings would actually be closer to $4 million. About 10,600 Wisconsin students participated in the program this year, with the majority of them attending the University of Minnesota, Nelson said.

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