Publication

February 21, 2017Client Alert

A Closer Look at the Governor’s Budget: Higher Education Funding and Policy

UW System
The budget proposes to increase state spending on the University of Wisconsin System by $105.2 million. In addition, the bill freezes resident undergraduate tuition in 2017-18 and would provide $35 million in state money to facilitate a 5% reduction in resident undergraduate tuition in 2018-19. In total, state spending on the UW System would be $2.2 billion over the biennium. The tuition cut proposal has received a skeptical reception by certain legislators, particularly those who are looking to fund transportation infrastructure needs through less state borrowing and who see various transportation projects being delayed. Other major proposals related to the UW System include:

  • An additional $10 million in needs-based financial aid through the Wisconsin Grant program, which largely applies to students at UW System schools, technical colleges, and private colleges and universities in Wisconsin
  • Creating an incentive funding program to provide more funding to those UW System Schools that perform best in certain measures, such as affordability, work readiness, and job placement. This $42 million in performance funding represents 2% of the $2.2 billion in state spending on the UW System
  • Requiring that at least 60 core general education course credits are transferable within and between each UW System school and Wisconsin technical college
  • Expanding the Flexible Option program, which is a competency-based degree program designed for non-traditional students, in particular to target those who desire to become a registered nurse or K-12 teacher. The bill also includes $700,000 in financial aid targeted to students utilizing the Flexible Option program
  • Requiring the development of three year degree programs
  • Requiring undergraduates to obtain an internship or work experience in order to receive a degree
  • Mandating certain requirements related to faculty workload and time spent teaching students

Technical College System
The budget proposes modest changes related to the Wisconsin Technical College System, including:

  • Adding $10 million in funding over the biennium to the technical college system
  • Freezing technical college student fees in 2018-19
  • Providing $5 million in competitive grants to schools for filling high need jobs
  • Adding $10 million in needs-based financial aid through the Wisconsin Grant program (also described above), which largely applies to students at UW System schools, technical colleges, and private colleges and universities in Wisconsin
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