UW colleges feel the pinch of tuition freeze

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- While Governor Scott Walker outlined his plan for the future in his State of the State speech Wednesday night, he also took time to point out changes that were made in 2013 that he says are leading Wisconsin forward.

One of those changes took effect earlier this fall when a tuition freeze went into effect for all UW System schools.

While the cuts mean savings for students, local colleges say they do more harm than good.

Leaders from UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout say the freeze has made it much harder for them to retain and recruit high quality staff. Meanwhile, students say the freeze has made it a little easier to foot the bill for tuition.

“I have to work. I have to take out loans. I accept all of the scholarships available to me so I’m making it work but I’m going to have to pay for it sometime along the road,” UW-Eau Claire senior Daniel Feldhacker said.

Feldhacker says he's seen his tuition gradually increasing since he first became a Blugold and when he saw the bill this semester he was happy to see his tuition didn’t go up

“You start entering a zone where you enter a zone when you question if it’s worth the money to get your education if the tuition goes up,” Feldhacker added.

During his state of the state speech Governor Walker touched on the tuition freeze and the impact it would have on middle class families.

“This freeze goes a long way toward making college more affordable for students and their families,” Walker said.
But for colleges like UW-Stout who are feeling the pinch from the freeze, the cuts have long term impacts.

“It really impacts the students in the classroom. It impacts the quality of teaching we can deliver. It impacts all facets of education and we are currently going through the process of identifying what’s most important to us and determining where to cut,” UW-Stout Vice Chancellor for Administration and Student Life Philip Lyons said.

Both UW-Stout and UW-Eau Claire say the freeze combined with state budget cuts have meant they have had to cut to make up for the loss in revenue. Students we talked to say ultimately the Universities will have to learn to budget money just like they have to in order to survive.

“I’m glad that there is a freeze on it and I think it will make institutions like UW-Eau Claire re-evaluate how they are spending the money,” Feldhacker said.

Both UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout say they have adjusted their budgets for the next year and a half due to the tuition freeze. They say after the tuition freeze expires in 2016 it would be up to the UW Board of Regents to approve future tuition increases.

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