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The Joint Finance Committee decided to implement a system wide tuition freeze last June for the next two years for the University of Wisconsin after determining that the UW system’s reserve was too large. Without the tuition freeze, students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point would have seen a two percent tuition increase this year, and students at other UW schools could have seen up to a five percent increase.
The tuition money would have gone to fund thing such as adding sections of over crowed classes, giving professors pay raises, and increasing funding to the Tutoring and Learning Center.
“As far as the tuition freeze goes from the student end it is a great thing for students. Now, instead of having a consistent five and a half percent raise students will know what their tuition is going to be,” said David Boardman, vice president of the SGA.
“As far as the University goes it may mean that we are going to have to look around and find out how
much money is available and be more innovative with our solutions.”
In addition to the loss of money from the tuition freeze $2.5 million was cut from UWSP’s biannual budget. The cuts will be spaced out over two years, cutting two million from this year’s budget and another half million from next year’s budget.
“It was one of the largest budget cuts that we’ve ever seen,” said Erin Hintz, budget director for UWSP.
The university will be leaning on reserve money to get through the budget cut and tuition freeze without cutting programs or departments for the first year.
“Because we were able to cover the cost of the cuts, we will have a year before we have to start making those hard decisions,” said Ryan Specht, president of the SGA.
Boardman said that you can expect to see UW administration trying to mend the fences with Wisconsin legislatures to rebuild some of the trust that was lost after the reserve was found.
Two projects that will not be lost in the midst of budget cuts are the Green Fund and the new science building, although there was initial concern that both projects would be tabled. The Green Fund, and SGA funded project, will start work in a few weeks and the state will be funding the new science building to be built in 2015.
Differential tuition, which the SGA has been lobbying to implement at UWSP for the past two years, has also been tabled, as it is a form of tuition. The SGA went to the Capital and lobbied to be allowed to keep the tuition but they were turned down. The SGA will be allowed to make another attempt to implement differential tuition in two years, when the tuition freeze will end.
Despite the freeze, SGA was able to maintain the right to raise segregated fees, which fund things like health services, the TLC, and the campus cab. The SGA did opt not to raise fees this semester.