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July 14, 2024

Opinion

Reciprocity unequal due to tuition hikes

February 16, 2007

Tuition reciprocity is a beautiful thing. It offers variety and affordability to students who would otherwise not be able to afford college. Today, this long standing agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin is in jeopardy because of an inequality in what the students pay.

Recently, Minnesota has been crying foul because Wisconsin residents who attend Minnesota schools pay two thousand dollars less per year than Minnesotans. This situation springs from the sudden and recent tuition hikes in Minnesota schools. They want to change the reciprocity agreement so that students who come across the river would pay the extra two thousand dollars.

Minnesota loses $6.5 million a year because of this inequity. One could say it is their fault because they raised their tuition, but those hikes were necessary to maintain the University’s reputation as a research institution. Think about it. Anytime we hear about some new medical breakthrough or a friend needs an experimental procedure done, the University of Minnesota is usually mentioned. The University of Minnesota Medical Center helped to extend my cousin’s life by years, so I fully believe in what they do, and money is what keeps the miracles coming.

But should this burden fall on Wisconsin residents? If students have an excess of anything, it is financial burden. None of us have an extra two grand lying around, nor do we wish to repay it four times over when we graduate. Asking the students to front the bill is the wrong answer, and it is against the principle of affordable education that Minnesota and Wisconsin have been striving for.

In truth, Minnesota is already being compensated for this inequity. According to the reciprocity agreement, if there is an inequity, the other state must pay the difference. The state of Wisconsin already pays $6 million a year to reimburse Minnesota. The problem is that this money goes into the state’s general fund, and not to the university system.

As a Minnesotan, I’m more than a little embarrassed for my state. All of this bellyaching, and we are already getting paid. Rather than going through the process of going to the state legislature and getting that money put into the university system’s budget, they want to take the shirts off the backs of the people who they should be trying to serve. They could make us pay the bills, or they could just do some paperwork.

This doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of inequity. One state is still paying the other reimbursement, and Wisconsin will continue to lose $6 million a year. It can’t be helped. Minnesota needs that extra money if it is going to maintain its reputation as a center of innovation and research.

Wisconsin seems content on paying, but in time, this burden will eventually fall on the students. We might not have to pay more to attend Minnesota schools, but eventually Wisconsin will charge us more to pay the difference. Wisconsin officials have been trying to play it cool, saying that it’s not their problem, but they aren’t looking at the long run.

We shouldn’t have to pay more and Minnesota should get its act together and get the money that we’re already paying them. This might ultimately prove to be temporary fix for students because, in the end, the $6 million bill will fall on us.

Kris Evans is a student at UW-River Falls.

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