Wisconsin and Minnesota have a few long-standing rivalries. Just think of the Minnesota Vikings versus the Green Bay Parkers.
But, one area of agreement between the two states is the need to maintain access to institutions of higher education for students in both states. As students across the state head back to school this month, college students in Minnesota and Wisconsin once again have the opportunity to attend state universities in the neighboring state without paying out-of-state tuition rates.
Continuing a long-standing partnership, this newly signed agreement will help keep college education affordable for more Wisconsin students. Over 10,000 Wisconsin students use the reciprocity agreement to attend college in Minnesota each year.
The Wisconsin-Minnesota tuition reciprocity program has been in place since 1965. The structure of the agreement has changed over time, meaning the agreement that was just approved is a little bit different that ones in the past.
The overall intention of the program has remained the same: to allow students from one state to pay the other state’s in-state tuition at universities and technical schools.
This year, there is a slight change as the result of the budget difficulties in Wisconsin. Wisconsin will no longer subsidize the cost of tuition for students attending Minnesota schools, as it has for the last few years.
Since 2007, the state of Wisconsin also subsidized tuition for Wisconsin students who attended Minnesota schools. This subsidy meant that Wisconsin students studying in Minnesota paid what they would have if they attended school in Wisconsin rather than what they would have paid as Minnesota residents attending a Minnesota school.
The state subsidy for this academic year translated into $1,396 toward the $9,794 in tuition charged Wisconsin students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, while it was $2,213 at UM-Duluth.
The cost of the subsidy has been growing each year. This biennium the cost to the state was $21 million. The funding for the subsidy was eliminated in the state budget passed this summer. The subsidy will remain in place for students who are already enrolled in a Minnesota school or who are beginning this fall. Beginning in 2015, the subsidy will no longer exist.
Another change in the agreement comes on the Minnesota side. Beginning in the 2010-11 school year, University of Minnesota schools have charged all students a $1,300 “university fee.” Since student fees were not a part of the previous reciprocity agreement, Wisconsin students attending Minnesota schools had to pay this separate fee on top of their tuition.
Beginning this year, this fee is considered part of tuition. As a result, tuition for Minnesota students attending UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee will increase by $1,300 this year, offsetting the amount that Wisconsin may owe Minnesota at the end of the year.
In 2010, the Joint Legislative Council convened a study committee to look at the state’s financial aid program. The Special Committee on Review of Higher Education Financial Aid Programs recommended eliminating the state supplemental subsidy and requiring students to pay the higher of the in-state tuition in their home state or their state of attendance. The committee was made up of representatives from the legislature, student loan companies, the Higher Educational Aids Board, colleges, universities and students.
All Wisconsin students are eligible for the reciprocity agreement, but each student must complete an application to receive the special tuition rate. Applications are available from the Higher Educational Aids Board, or HEAB, at their website: www.heab.wi.gov. Residents should contact their high school, the Minnesota university they will be attending or HEAB for additional information.