5% tuition increase: UW System leader seeks from regents

University of Wisconsin System students would face a 5% tuition increase next year under a plan the system's president, Jay Rothman, unveiled Thursday, March 2.

Rothman told the state Assembly's universities committee that he will ask the Board of Regents at its April meeting 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.

Republican lawmakers froze tuition for in-state undergraduates in 2013 but lifted the freeze in 2021, opening the door for regents to raise rates if they so choose. The board hasn't imposed any increase 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, according to system figures. Those costs don't include student fees and living expenses.

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But like all other sectors, the system faces rising inflation, and Gov. Tony Evers' budget would leave the system about $130 million short of what regents say they need to run their campuses over the next two years.

Rothman told the committee that he's "extraordinarily sensitive" about college affordability. But he said the high inflation over the past year has hurt the system's spending power and that financial uncertainty looms later in 2023 for the entire nation.