Sunday, February 4, 2007

Small Schools in ColdState and CheeseState Caught in Crossfire

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press - 4 February 2004

Tuition dispute not just about U

Smaller schools on both sides of border rely on reciprocity

“Reciprocity has tied this geographic region together. Most of us don't see the border, and it would be a real disservice to sort of untangle that," said Alan Tuchtenhagen, admissions director at UW-River Falls. There, the $6,000 a Minnesota undergrad pays annually would leap to nearly $13,000 if the Minnesotan were treated like any other out-of-state student.

The 40-year-old reciprocity deal basically allows Wisconsinites attending Minnesota public colleges to pay the cost of a comparable Wisconsin school. The same applies to Minnesotans studying in Wisconsin.

It chugged along mostly fine for decades. Then six years of steep in-state tuition hikes at the U, including four double-digit percentage increases, threw the deal out of whack. Insulated from those hikes, Wisconsin students now pay $1,200 a year less in tuition than Minnesotans on the U's Twin Cities campus, $1,700 less at Duluth and $2,700 less for the U Morris campus.

The states compensate each other for the costs of reciprocity. Wisconsin paid Minnesota $20 million the past three years. But that money goes to the state's general fund, not to the U directly.

Some lawmakers say the state should simply turn over to the schools the money Wisconsin pays to Minnesota. But U leaders argue that wouldn't fix the basic problem — a Wisconsin student paying less than a Minnesotan for a U education.

[Mr Bonzo doesn't really understand this argument. If ColdState legislature gave BigU the dough from CheeseState, what is the BigU's beef? That CheeseState is "subsidizing" their students? How is this a problem if CheeseState has decided that their student citizens should not have to personally pay BigU's tution, but kicks in the extra. BigU is not being short-changed as far as Mr. B. can see.]

The smaller schools and their students seem stuck in the middle of the sparring between the U, which wants Wisconsinites to pay more, and Wisconsin, which says its students shouldn't be punished for Minnesota jacking up tuition on Minnesotans.

Hopefully the relevant issues concerning this tuition reciprocity mess are surfacing and will be rationally discussed. Right now, at least, it appears that BigU is being a BigBully about this and the collateral damage is being shared by the little guys....

"While we would prefer to have this change made within the existing state-to-state agreement, the University has the legal authority to make this change on its own." (Update on Wisconsin Reciprocity - Blanket email to BigU faculty and staff, I-31-07).

Could this be a threat by OurBenevolentLeaders?

Writing to you from very ColdState where it is currently -14 F. SmallHouse has its original windows and as I write looks like something out of Dr. Zhivago.

I remain your humble, but frozen, servant,

Mr. Bonzo

ps. to prove that we are not wimps Mr. and Mrs. Bonzo went to a live broadcast of Prairie Home Companion last night in St. Paul, where we first froze on the walk to the Fitz and then listened to a lot of jokes. The music, as always, was outstanding.

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