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Statement by UW System President Kevin P. Reilly to the Board of Regents - A clarification of yesterday's budget discussion regarding undocumented students (June 10, 2011)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 10, 2011

Statement by UW System President Kevin P. Reilly to the Board of Regents

A clarification of yesterday's budget discussion regarding undocumented students

“I think it’s important to revisit part of our Budget discussion yesterday, as it pertains to undocumented students. This is a very complex topic, and I worry that some people might misinterpret the discussion yesterday about changes in the law and how our universities and colleges will comply with those changes.

“In the last biennial budget, new statutory language was approved that let certain undocumented Wisconsin residents pay in-state tuition at UW. In the current budget bill, that language is removed, meaning that undocumented students will again be charged non-resident tuition at our schools.

“It is our intent to comply fully with the letter and the spirit of this law, if it is passed.

“To be clear, Chancellors do not have unilateral authority to set tuition differently for certain students. Their financial aid offices do have a very limited pool of resources available to provide additional assistance for a very small number of students who need more help to stay in school. As we have discussed previously, the number of students with documented financial need already exceeds the number of financial aid dollars available by a lot, and this situation will likely only get worse in the near future.

“Under questioning yesterday, our General Counsel answered correctly—saying that chancellors do have authority to provide supplemental financial aid to needy students. Some people came away from that exchange with the impression that we would earmark those scarce dollars in some way for undocumented students, and that’s simply not the case. We’ll continue to use those finite pools of institutional aid to help more low-income students stay in school, complete their UW degrees, and move into the workforce prepared to help Wisconsin businesses thrive.”

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