Do not fear tuition increase

Future of UW system continues to look promising for students amid recent tuition raises

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Photo by Brian Sheridan

Data from Eau Claire’s Office of Institutional Research shows graduate and undergraduate enrollment from students out of state has been increasing for the last 10 years.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents has recently approved the increase of graduate and nonresident tuition for five universities. These increases vary by campus and major, but are anywhere from a half percent to 18 percent.

Currently, undergraduate, in-state tuition is frozen until the end of next year but graduate and nonresident tuition prices have no caps and are mandated by local university control. UW-Eau Claire is not of the approved universities for tuition increase, but that has not stopped the Blugolds from being concerned about the future.

Anna Shah, a senior chemistry student, sees the the tuition increase as “a burden” and said she would have to take on extra work to pay for it, along with her 18-credit load.

Freshman nursing student Madeline Bunde said college is already expensive and universities should not be punishing people for trying to get a higher education by making them pay more, which may reflect poorly on student enrollment.

“It might deter more students from going into the programs and going to graduate school because of the cost and maybe deter more people from going to the school itself,” Bunde said.

However, Heather Kretz, the director of admissions at Eau Claire, reassured that this is not the case.

Kretz said Eau Claire doesn’t have a large nonresident (besides Minnesota) and graduate population, so enrollment is not affected much. But for what change that is seen, enrollment for out-of-state students has been steadily increasing for the last 10 years and has more than doubled in the last three, according to data from Eau Claire’s Office of Institutional Research.

In fact, Eau Claire tuition for Illinois residents is actually cheaper than most Illinois colleges. Because Eau Claire is a part of the Midwest Student Exchange Program, out-of-state students can come here for 150 percent of Wisconsin tuition, which is below $12,000. Most Illinois university tuition prices range from $13,000 to over $18,000, according to

When decisions are made to increase tuition, Kretz said it is to continue the support for the increasing cost of specific majors while still trying to be affordable and making the major valuable.

“In general, we’ve seen an increase in out-of-state students, and when other schools increase their tuition, that’s a competitive decision we have to make,” Kretz said. “We have to make sure we have enough funds to provide that great education and yet we can’t price ourselves out of competition.”

Kretz said Chancellor James C. Schmidt has not yet made a decision on whether tuition increases will be coming to Eau Claire. Other universities rely more heavily on nonresident tuition, Kretz said, so some of them opted for the increase.

As for the future of Wisconsin students, Kretz said future Blugolds and graduates should continue to look toward Wisconsin schools since employers continue to boast about the “potential that our students bring and their amazing skill set.”

“I think we have some great leaders in the UW System that make sure we aren’t sacrificing the core of what we deliver to students,” Kretz said. “When you think about budget cuts and tuition raises, I think, we have thoughtful leaders that are making sure that we’re balancing the student needs first.