Expanding access for Wisconsin students (Feb 21, 2006)

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February 2006

Expanding access for Wisconsin students

Facts about University of Wisconsin System nonresident tuition rates

A new UW System tuition plan can make it possible for more Wisconsin students to attend UW campuses

In February, the Board of Regents approved a plan that would require nonresident undergraduate students to pay tuition that covers the full cost of their education, and, at the same time, provide a tuition subsidy to make space available for additional Wisconsin undergraduates. The plan would:

  • make it possible to educate more Wisconsin students;
  • help UW regain lost revenue;
  • reduce noncompetitive tuition rates for nonresident students;
  • not affect nonresident tuition at UW-Madison; and
  • assist with a "brain gain" effort for Wisconsin.


Resident undergraduate tuition at UW campuses is among the lowest when compared to peer colleges and universities. When Wisconsin students enroll at UW campuses, their tuition covers just more than half (55%) of the cost of their education. The state of Wisconsin and nonresident tuition subsidies pay for the rest of these educational costs.

Currently, nonresident students pay close to four times as much as resident students - thereby subsidizing costs for students from Wisconsin. However, tuition rates for most out-of-state students at UW campuses (except Minnesota reciprocity students) are well above the rates at similar colleges and universities.

2005-06 Tuition and Fees

  UW Resident Rate Peer Median Resident Rate UW Nonresident Rate Peer Median Nonresident Rate
UW-Milwaukee $6,220 $7,355 $18,972 $15,834
UW Comprehensives $5,059 $6,129 $15,155 $12,563


map of Wisconsin

From 2001-02 to 2004-05, UW nonresident enrollment dropped by more than 900 students - which is causing the university to lose more than $13 million in revenue each year. More nonresident students are likely choosing not to attend UW campuses because of dramatic tuition increases, which resulted from 5 percent annual tuition surcharges mandated by Governor McCallum in 2001-03.

The proposed tuition changes would place nonresident undergraduate tuition rates at UW-Milwaukee, the UW Comprehensives, and the two-year UW Colleges, closer to the rates charged at similar colleges and universities. This tuition rate would still cover the full cost of educating the nonresident student while providing a tuition subsidy for resident students.

The first goal is to return nonresident enrollments to 2001-02 levels. By enrolling just 240 more out-of-state students at the four-year campuses (except UW-Madison), the UW would be able to make up for the reduction in nonresident undergraduate tuition. Any nonresident enrollments above this level would bring in additional dollars-making it possible to educate and better serve more Wisconsin students.

QUESTIONS? Contact the University of Wisconsin System at 1-800-442-6461 or visit

Printable fact sheet (PDF)