The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published the following article on rising costs at public universities:
Rise in Sticker Price at Public Colleges Outpaces That at Private Colleges for 5th Year in a Row, by Beckie Supiano, October 26, 2011
The average price for tuition and fees at public four-year colleges was $8,244 for in-state students in 2011-12, up from $7,613 in 2010-11, an 8.3-percent increase. That percentage change drops to 7.0 percent if California—which had a 21-percent increase in tuition in that one-year period—is excluded.
Here in Wisconsin, in-state tuition and fees for the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the fall 2011 semester totaled $4,832.50, compared with $4,491.60 for the fall 2010 semester; in-state tuition and fees for UW-Milwaukee for the fall 2011 semester totaled $4,337.70, compared with $4,075.63 for the fall 2010 semester. In percentage terms, the increases are 7.6% and 6.4%, respectively.
The basic message in this is that UW-Madison’s in-state tuition is still well below the national average, but the percentage increase is comparable to that experienced elsewhere. In short, like elsewhere, the investment by the state of Wisconsin in making higher education affordable for all of its citizens is being dialed back.
We already knew this, of course. But the latest massive hits to the UW-System budget, not reflected in the above figures, are virtually certain to sharply accelerate the cost increases. In fact, if current trends continue, we can expect to see the distinction between private and public institutions become almost meaningless.
Is this really what the citizens of Wisconsin want?