Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently released his proposal for the 2017-2019 University of Wisconsin System budget.
In this proposal, Walker recommended that students pay less by giving them the option to opt-out of allocable segregated fees and by implementing a decrease in tuition of 5 percent across the board.
In order to help compensate for some of the tuition cut, it is also proposed that UW schools receive an increase in state funding which will differ from school to school based on various performance criteria.
Allocable segregated fees are charges that are currently applied to all students and give schools the option to distribute money to portions of the university that supplement education.
These fees are separated into various categories with different prices associated with them. For example, some of the fees applied to full time students at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point are a fee of $5.59 per credit that goes towards the athletics department, and $1.87 per credit for the city bus program which allows student to ride for free.
“The allocable portion of segregated fees mainly supports student-organized activities, such as student government and student organizations,” according to an explanation of segregated fees posted on the UWSP website.
Alex Thomas, senior waste management and biology major and member of student government, said he was concerned about the effects this change would have on the UWSP budget.
He said, “Those budgets are set by what we expect our student population to be. If we don’t know what our student population paying into allocable fees is going to be, how are we going to propose a budget for them, how do we know what staff to hire, and how do we know what resources are even going to be available for students to use?”
There are also non-allocable segregated fees which would not be affected by the proposed budget.
Governor Walker has also proposed that portions of the proposed state funding for the UW system be based on performances of the universities.
The performance criteria is sectioned into six categories that each have a number of subcategories.
The six performance criteria are based on: degree completion, graduate job placement, number of “high-impact practices” undergraduates experience, reduced spending on administration, how many residents are served by UW-Extension programs, and two other categories that the UW Board of Regents would specify.
Thomas said, “I don’t like the idea of allocating funding based on how well the university is performing because then those who perform bad don’t get funding, and won’t have the resources to improve.”
He said if it were to be passed, he would want the criteria to be decided based on the board of regents and the chancellors of the universities, not the state.
Lawmakers and UW officials are currently working together to develop the details of the budget.