The UW System has been on a tuition freeze for the past two years. This means that the tuition was unable to be increased for any reason. However, housing, food and other miscellaneous expenses on campuses were able to increase.
With the elections coming up, there has been talk about the tuition freeze and whether it will be extended for another two years.
UW-L Student Association’s Legislative Issues Director James Dirth shared what effects the tuition freeze has on the students directly.
Dirth has been the Legislative Issues Director for three years and it is his job to talk to the legislators of the state. He discusses issues that affect the students directly, so the topic of tuition freeze is something he is well versed on.
He explained that extending the tuition freeze is like a “double-edged sword.”
“It keeps the cost of education down, but we have to be conscious of how much students have to spend to attend UW schools,” Dirth said. “Because of a pay gap with faculty of other states, there is a slight concern with faculty leaving to go to other schools if the opportunity were to arise.”
However, he clarified that this is more of a fear than an actual implication.
If the tuition freeze were to be extended, it would be possible for the segregated fees to increase at about three percent per year.
Another implication that goes along with being a double-edged sword is the potential of a larger increase in tuition at the end of an extended tuition freeze. While it would be beneficial to students currently enrolled to continue paying the same amount for tuition, after it ended, tuition could go up by three percent, which is more than a traditional increase.
Since the majority of students are the ones who are going to be worrying about the cost of tuition when looking at paying off loans later, it would make sense for the students to have a say in what happens. However, “it is determined by the legislator not by the system,” Dirth said. And there are no students currently on the board. It is possible to contact the legislators but there are “deep partisan divides.”
Dirth encourages students to always be conscious of what is happening at the Capitol. “Student education costs go up, and if you want them to stay down, you have to be conscious and alert to contact the legislators.”
If the legislature isn’t aware that students care about the tuition freeze, and if they have no student input, it appears as a lack of caring so they make decisions based on “what the students should like instead of what they want.”
There is still time to share input with the legislators. Elections are coming up soon, so that is what the majority of conversation is about, but budget talks will begin early after elections and heat up around February or March.