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Enrollment up at University despite tuition increases

April 16, 2009

The number of applications the UW-River Falls admissions office has received is above average, despite the fact that tuition is increasing next year.

According to Alan Tuchtenhagen, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services, applications are presently at a 1 to 2 percent increase compared to 2007-08.
Over the 2008-09 academic year, the increase has varied between a 2 and 5 percent increase.

“UW-River Falls is one of two or three campuses in the system that are at an increase in applications,” Tuchtenhagen said.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual tuition and room and board for public institutions has increased to $11,600 and $29,900 for private institutions.

The cost of tuition is increasing for all UW campuses, yet the great difference in price could affect the decisions of students.

“Students are choosing River Falls because they can basically get the same education for a cheaper price,” sophomore Meghan Gardener said.

According to Tuchtenhagen, the present economic state is affecting UWRF.

“UW-River Falls is about the most affordable college in the area,” Tuchtenhagen said. “Students are making more realistic decisions that are affordable.”

Beyond the tolerable tuition, students are choosing UWRF for several other reasons.

“I chose River Falls because it does not have distracting places, like a mall, so I can save my money. I am also able to walk to places because it is a small campus,” Staci Heinz, UWRF student, said. “I also came to RF because I knew it had a good elementary ed. program and the cheaper tuition was definitely a bonus.”

Beyond UWRF, other campuses have seen different results.

Within the UW System, UW-Madison is one campus that has seen a dramatic decrease in applications.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, for the first time in five years, undergraduate applications for Madison’s fall admission are on a decline.

Last year, admissions received a record high of 25,073 applications to 24,263 this year. The price for attending UW-Madison is $21,820 for out-of-state students and $7,570 for Wisconsin residents.

Overall, the UW System has seen an increase in student enrollment over the last 10 years through the annual tuition increases and budget cuts.

According to the UW System March 16 press release, in the academic year beginning in September 2008, UW System’s enrollment reached 175,056—an increase of 1,633 from the previous year, and an all-time record for the System.

According to the UW System data report, UWRF has seen a 17 percent increase within the last 10 years, the fourth largest growth rate within UW campuses.

The growth is definite and beneficial to the economy.

“These campuses are essential to the economic and cultural well-being of their regions around the state, and this growth will be increasingly important to the economic vitality of the entire state,” UW System President Kevin P. Reilly, said in the March 16 press release.

UWRF may have received benefits and a higher interest from potential students, yet the UW System will continue to strive towards success through these rough times.

“Our UW System campuses continue to offer an exceptional educational value. Through some tough economic times, we’ve managed major budget cuts and kept quality high,” David Giroux, executive director of communications and external relations for the UW System, said. “More students and families today understand that a college education is key to their future prosperity, so people still want to attend college. Our job is to keep the doors open.”