Out-of-state students and those in UW-Madison’s professional schools could soon see another round of tuition increases after Chancellor Rebecca Blank told faculty Monday she plans to ask the university’s governing board in the coming months to raise prices for those students.
Blank also said UW-Madison plans to distribute $9 million in raises and bonuses to its faculty and academic staff in a move aimed in part at shoring up morale among employees.
The chancellor announced the initiatives during her State of the University speech Monday at a meeting of the UW-Madison faculty senate, where she touted the university’s achievements over the past year but acknowledged the challenges it faces in creating a “more stable financial base” amid declining state funding.
The University of Wisconsin System’s Board of Regents last approved tuition increases for non-resident and professional school students at UW-Madison in the spring of 2015, raising annual tuition by $6,000 over two years for out-of-state undergraduates. Blank had sought a $10,000 increase over four years, but the board scaled back her request.
“I went and asked for four years of increases, they gave me two and said, ‘Come back again when two years are up,’” Blank said. “Two years are up in this current year.”
Undergraduates from outside Wisconsin and Minnesota pay $32,738 per year to attend UW-Madison, compared to $10,488 for in-state students.
Blank called the tuition costs in UW-Madison’s professional schools “very low.”
“I will be back again talking about what we need to make our professional schools competitive with market-based tuition,” she said.
In-state students in the UW-Madison law school pay $21,450, while non-residents pay $40,147; in the medical school, Wisconsin residents pay $29,865 per year, while out-of-state tuition is $39,761.
Neither Blank nor a UW-Madison spokesman said how much of an increase the university will seek.
UW System officials are also asking lawmakers to end the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates in the next state budget. Gov. Scott Walker has said he wants to keep the limit in place through the 2017-18 school year, but has not committed to extending it beyond that.
More tuition revenue
As lawmakers have cut funding for the UW System in recent budgets and limited how much money universities can take in from Wisconsin undergraduates as a result of the freeze, UW-Madison and other campuses have sought greater revenue from professional students and non-residents, who pay higher tuition than their in-state counterparts.
Campus officials have credited the 2015 tuition increase, which they say brought tens of millions more dollars to UW-Madison, for helping reduce the size of the campus’ budget deficit after lawmakers cut the UW System’s funding by $250 million over two years.
UW-Madison has also sought to enroll more out-of-state students. The Regents last fall granted a request from the flagship campus to eliminate a cap on the number of non-residents who could enter in each freshman class while also enrolling at least 3,600 freshmen from Wisconsin.
Some on campus have raised concerns that the push to attract more out-of-state students, who tend to come from wealthier families, risks making UW-Madison less accessible to low-income students and those from Wisconsin.
Raises for faculty, staff
Blank framed the issue of pay for UW-Madison faculty and staff as a question of “how we make sure UW is a place where outstanding people want to be and live and work.”
“Compensation is No. 1 on my list,” Blank said. “You know how poorly we look relative to some of our peers in compensation.”
She noted that the Board of Regents plans to request across-the-board pay increases for UW employees in December. But, Blank said, “It is never popular to go to state legislators and say, ‘You’ve got to make pay increases for public employees.’
“It’s a tough sell,” she said.
In the meantime, UW-Madison will provide $3.5 million for merit-based faculty raises and another $3.5 million to increase staff pay, along with $2 million for one-time bonuses to reward “faculty and staff who performed above expectation,” Blank said.
Funding for the raises will come from state dollars, a UW-Madison spokesman said, and they will be distributed over this school year.