Making the five-hour drive from the North Woods of Wisconsin down to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, my distressed parents were incessantly calling throughout last week for last minute advice on classes and placement testing for my younger brother’s freshman-year orientation.
While the immediate concerns and anxieties this milestone had only raised my parent’s stress level enough to cause a slight annoyance, they now seem trivial compared to the concerns their dwindling savings will bring about in light of the recently approved 5.5% tuition increase for UW-System Schools.
This hike in tuition was approved last Thursday by the UW Board of Regents and will apply to the University of Wisconsin System’s 13 two-year and 13 four-year colleges for the 2012-13 academic year. This increase will mean my brother, a resident of Wisconsin, will pay $10,378 per year, a huge jump from my UW-Madison freshman tuition of $7,564.
Underlying the cause of this increase in tuition is Governor Walker’s $250 million in aid cuts to the UW System in his attempt to balance the state budget, in addition to the $46.1 million in funding cuts due to the more recent budget lapse. Both of these cuts are disproportionately high when considering the actual percentage the UW System accounts for in the state budget.
When the threat this nearly $300 million in funding cuts put the quality of education that these UW System School’s provide on the line (i.e. larger class sizes, course reductions, fewer resources), the Board of Regents was forced to find these funds elsewhere. Unfortunately, these funds have come in the form of higher tuition, placing another burden on the already cash-strapped families of Wisconsin.
With last week’s freshman orientation already passed, my parents, along with many others who have found out the disheartening news, have moved on from the enrollment worries and testing woes that orientation brought about, now aware of the heavy burden their first-year student’s tuition rate will prove to bear in the coming year.