With disproportionate budget cuts affecting higher education statewide, differential tuition has been called on to make ends meet at UW-SP. The $250 million already cut, and 65 million more looming on the horizon, will impose a potential 8% increase in tuition for the next two years, in the event that differential tuition is implemented.
Ironically, the justification for this auxiliary tuition is that it is needed to maintain the quality of education, including tutoring services, course availability and advising. Yet what is left out of the equation is the impact on diversity and a consideration of graduation rates. An unintended result of the massive impending tuition hike is that disenfranchised socio-economic groups will have a more difficult time attending college.
Many of these students depend on financial aid, which is increasingly difficult to obtain, and the diverse, cosmopolitan college atmosphere will suffer. Moreover, as tuition climbs at a steady 8% for the next two years, many students will find themselves financially exhausted before they can graduate. Instead, they will have spent perhaps several years accumulating debt, which they now must pay off with lower-paying jobs and few benefits.
Differential tuition is being billed as the savior of our educational experience, but in light of its likely effect upon diversity and graduation rates, it is unlikely it will maintain the quality of higher education we expect from Wisconsin. Right now, Student Government holds the power to stop this deal. Students hold the power right now. They are being rushed to approve it by the end of this semester. If they vote on it and approve it, they’ll ignore the results of the survey they issued, and therefore ignore the opinions of the students they represent. But they can say, "the students aren’t comfortable with this; let’s give it more time." They could also go for the option of rushing the package, as admin wants them to do.