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Reciprocity agreement reached, begins fall ’08

November 2, 2007

The reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota remains strong after a new agreement about how reciprocity funds are distributed was reached by the two states.

“This reciprocal agreement between the two states has been around for decades,” Alan Tuchtenhagen, UW-River Falls Admissions Director, said. “It works well for both states.”

Conflict over the reciprocity agreement arose this year when the University of Minnesota President Bob Bruininks threatened to withdraw from the agreement due to budgetary concerns.

“Reciprocity was made permanent in the late 80s early 90s, so actually both States have to agree to withdraw,” Tuchtenhagen said. “So they can’t just unilaterally stop it.”

The reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin affirms that a student will pay the tuition from their resident State. So a Wisconsin student going to the University of Minnesota would pay Wisconsin tuition rates.

“If [tuition] was twice as much I probably would have just gone to the U of M,” Junior David Blatz, a Minnesota resident going to UWRF, said.

Both states have been increasing their tuition rates in recent years, but Minnesota has been increasing tuition at a faster rate. The UW-System is raising tuition by about 5 percent a year while the University of Minnesota is raising tuition by about 8 percent a year, Tuchtenhagen said.

Since Minnesota’s tuition was rising faster than Wisconsin’s, Minnesota residents were actually paying more than Wisconsin residents to go to the University of Minnesota due to the reciprocity agreement.

“A Wisconsin kid sitting next to the Minnesota kid paid about $2000 less to go to the U of M,” Tuchtenhagen said.

Bruininks also had issue with how the funds were distributed at the end of the fiscal year.

At the end of the year, the two states figure out who received more funds from reciprocity. The state that receives more funds cuts a check to the other state to cover the difference, Tuchtenhagen said.

“That’s been to the tune of over $7 million now,” Tuchtenhagen said, “Wisconsin has been paying Minnesota.”

In Wisconsin the money was put back into UW System budget. However, when Wisconsin was paying Minnesota, the money was going to a general state fund and the Universities did not directly get the funding.

A compromise was reached earlier this month that addressed the concerns of Bruininks.

As a result of the new reciprocity agreement, the money that Minnesota receives from Wisconsin reciprocity now goes directly do the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System’s budget.

Wisconsin residents going to school in Minnesota are now billed differently as a result of the new agreement. The students are billed Minnesota tuition the same as a Minnesota student, but the money that comes in to Minnesota from the reciprocity agreement is used to fund a grant that gets Wisconsin residents a discount on Minnesota tuition.

“It’s a book keeping thing,” said Tuchtenhagen. “It looks like they are paying the same [as a Minnesota student], but the state of Wisconsin is then subsidizing the cost to bring it down.”

The new agreement takes effect beginning with new students who enroll in fall 2008.