Republicans vote to end 8-year UW tuition freeze

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Legislature’s Republican-led budget committee has voted to end a University of Wisconsin tuition freeze that has been in place for eight years and long been a GOP priority that had bipartisan support.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed extending the tuition freeze in his budget proposal, along with spending $190 million more on higher education. But the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee went in a different direction Thursday, ending the tuition freeze and adding just $21 million in state funding.

University leaders for years have criticized the tuition freeze, saying it makes it hard to fund the university and threatens educational quality.

University of Wisconsin- Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank appreciated the decision to end the tuition freeze, saying it allows UW System schools to manage tuition increases.

“We will continue to advocate for other priorities, including much-needed facilities for the College of Engineering and the College of Letters and Science,” she said. “We will also make the case for continued investment in our greatest asset -the faculty and staff who make this university great.”

UW System President Tommy Thompson also supported the decision.

“By not extending the $45 million annual budget reduction and by not further mandating a tuition freeze, the budget committee offers the UW System flexibility to develop talent, generate life-changing research and deliver the education students expect and families deserve,” said Thompson. " Besides its people, the University of Wisconsin is the state’s greatest asset and we will never relent on our efforts to improve the lives of every citizen in Wisconsin by making the UW System the best it can be.”

Once the Joint Finance Committee concludes its budget work, the bills will be sent to each house for passage and then sent to Gov. Evers’ desk.

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