Thursday, April 25, 2013--5:45p.m.
RIO--Over the last few days, we've told you about a UW system surplus of $648 million. More that $414 million of those are tuition dollars.
This week UW officials have been getting grilled by lawmakers upset about the surplus. They say the UW was stockpiling money while continuing to raise student tuition rates. Earlier this week, UW system President Kevin Reilly defended the surplus, saying they've had to plan for smaller amounts of state funding, as well as an expected drop in the number of graduating high schoolers over the next decade.
We spoke with a crop of incoming UW students to hear their thoughts on the surplus debate, including Rio Senior Logan Reigstad. "I want to be a meteorologist," Reigstad told us. That's something he's known since a young age. "My goal eventually is to become the next Carlos Tucker, you know the night meteorologist on T.V.," he said.
That's a goal we here at NBC15 approve of--but he's going to need a college degree before we can hire him. "The best meteorology program in the state is at UW-Madison," said Reigstad.
He looked at other schools, including out-of-state, but felt becoming a badger married a good education with affordability.
But when it came out that the UW had stockpilled a surplus--as students have faced rising tuition costs--the news made him a little uncomfortable."They're trying to stockpile and use my money as a, you know, like a everyday fund for later in the future to help other kids keep their tuition down," he said.
We were curious how other incoming freshmen felt, so we spoke with a few of Reigstad's peers. A couple said saving money for the future is a smart move on the UW's part and could help maintain the college experience for future generations of students. "It's kind of understandable, in a way with the education you're receiving,"said Mary Strause, who's also heading to UW-Madison soon. "As well as maybe when you're older and you have kids and they might want to go to Wisconsin, then you'd have good facilities and whatever else for them."
For Reigstad, he said he's okay with some surplus--just not one as large as this--and he'd like to see tuition rates frozen for a couple years. "A little bit of a surplus is always a good thing, but you know somewhere around $600 million, that's kind of a lot," he said.
We were also curious how the UW compares to other Big Ten schools in terms of cost, so we estimated the tuition and fees for this year. Here's how the schools rank, from most expensive to least.
1. Northwestern University: $43,780
2.Penn State University: $15,562
3. University of Illinois: $14,522
4. University of Minnesota: $13,016
5. University of Michigan: $12,800
6. Michigan State University: $12,674
7. University of Wisconsin-Madison: $10,384
8. Ohio State: $10,037
9. Indiana University: $10,034
10. Purdue: $9,900
11. University of Iowa: $8,058
12. Nebraska: $7,984