The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Reciprocity here to stay

Minnesota’s Office of Higher Education decided Wednesday to maintain the tuition reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin for the time being.

“Freshmen entering school this fall will be fine for the next four years,” wrote Rep. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire, in a prepared statement to The Spectator.

The tuition reciprocity agreement that exists between the two states says that any Wisconsin student wishing to attend a Minnesota university would pay the average tuition of a comparable university in Wisconsin. The same goes for a Minnesota student wanting to attend a university in Wisconsin.

In January, the MOHE cited the nearly 40-year agreement as being unfair for Minnesota students, saying it costs Minnesota students more money to attend a university in their own state than a Wisconsin student attending the same college.

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In some cases, they said, this difference is nearly $2,000 more a year.

Freshman Teresa Higgins said reciprocity played a big role in her choice to come to UW-Eau Claire, saying it was “a lot cheaper” than comparable schools in Minnesota.

To compensate for the difference, the state of Wisconsin wrote a check for nearly $7 million last year, wrote Smith, who is on the Wisconsin State Assembly’s Colleges and Education Committee.

Smith spokesman Nathan Franklin said when Wisconsin pays the reciprocity difference, the check is sent to Minnesota’s general budget, where Minnesota legislators decide where the money is to be spent.

“(The issue) was raised because the state Legislature of Minnesota needs to give the University of Minnesota the money from Wisconsin,” Franklin said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t go there.”

University of Minnesota officials disagree, saying the check making up the difference should be sent to the university and not the state, an idea which Smith agrees with.

“If it were up to us, we’d cut the check straight to the U of M,” Smith wrote. “But I’m not a Minnesota legislator so I don’t get to decide where those dollars go.”

Higgins agreed, saying she feels Minnesota universities are losing out.

“It seems like the money is not used for what it is intended for,” she said. “The Minnesota schools are losing the amount of money they don’t get from the students.”

According to a MOHE press release, either side must notify the other if they wish to discontinue the pact, four years before the termination date. The release also said no notification has been given from either party at this time.

“The long and short of it is reciprocity is a good thing for both states,” Smith said. “Students can have more choices and both our universities benefit from mixing Gophers and Badgers.

“In any case, Wisconsin should never have to apologize for having low tuition.”

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