By Hannah Lundquist —
Many people are aware of the problems that the UW system is facing right now with the budget cuts. What most students are not aware of is the possibility of differential tuition. With differential tuition you still pay based on credits and housing and then on top of those fees there is another added cost for classes to cover more program fees and specialties to help enhance the learning experiences of specific programs.
In opposition, regular tuition is where you pay based on the amount of credit hours that are taken in addition to housing fees if you live on campus, across all programs and majors.Differential tuition allows campuses to charge up to 150 percent of base tuition to specific programs.
Chancellor Meyer is looking to raise tuition for programs with high placement rates and high starting salaries. “What I’m looking for, and asking for, is the authority to do that with discretion,” said Meyer in a meeting with the SSA.
The hope for differential tuition at University of Wisconsin–Stout is that we will be able to maintain the same academic standing and also to be able to keep as much faculty as possible by bridging the gap caused by system-wide budget cuts.
Currently the amount of faculty that we have is falling behind other schools in the UW system. Not only are faculty numbers low, but Stout faculty get paid less than other comparable schools with similar sizes and missions as Stout. Ninety percent of faculty from comparable universities are getting paid more than Stout faculty.
Stout administration is also experiencing difficulties in finding staff to replace faculty that have recently quit or retired. Differential tuition would help allow Stout to keep faculty and pay them appropriately.
“The array of programs that I’m really thinking about would be the engineering programs,” said Meyer. The proposed differential tuition would add approximately $700 to the engineering programs to help with the lab and equipment costs associated with the programs.
“A student leaving any of the engineering programs can enjoy 100 percent placement with an average starting salary of $58,000,” said Meyer in regards to why engineering programs would be subject to differential tuition.
Students graduating from engineering programs would have a better chance of paying off loans and finding jobs with higher salaries.
“I think differential tuition would be something I’d want to apply to those programs, but not to all programs,” said Meyer. Programs such as education majors have lower placement rates than engineering and lower starting salaries. “We have to be smart about the way we apply differential tuition,” said Meyer.
One of the reasons this has not been put in place is because of the possibility of excluding some groups of people from being able to pay for their tuition. As a result, it is difficult to determine if instituting this plan throughout the school will be beneficial to all major programs or just some. Solutions, such as more scholarships offered to majors subject to differential tuition, have been discussed to help cover tuition differences.
Long term, the goal would be to have tuition determined completely by the school and have it follow market price for classes. Market price would mean Stout sets prices per credit dependent on the type of class taken. For example, an engineering class would potentially cost more than an education class because engineers will have higher starting salaries upon graduation in comparison to educators.
No official decisions have been made regarding differential tuition. This is just one proposed plan to help aid in the on-going budget cut battles.