MAILED: Oct. 26, 2000
Studies released last week contain good news for Wisconsin families who worry that they won't be able to send their children to college.
Tuition at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and other UW System four-year institutions remains below the average cost of the nation's four-year public institutions, according to the annual College Board survey on college costs and financial aid availability.
The survey, which was released during the third week of October, shows that the average cost of
tuition at the nation's four-year public institutions is $3,510, an increase of $148, or 4.4 percent, over last year. Private college education costs increased more than 5 percent since 1999.
In comparison, the cost of tuition and fees for UW-Eau Claire resident undergraduate students this year is $3,251.90, which reflects no increase in tuition due to the second-year tuition freeze enacted by the Legislature as part of the 1999-01 biennial budget last fall.
According to Vice Chancellor Andrew Soll, the total cost for required fees plus room and board for a full-time resident undergraduate is $6,686.90, compared to last year's total of $6,511.30. The increase reflects modest adjustments in charges for room, board and segregated fees, which support a broad range of student activities and services including textbook rental. It also includes the continuation of a $50 per semester differential tuition charge unique to UW-Eau Claire and earmarked for enhancing students' academic opportunities, such as internships, faculty and student collaborative research and other programs related to the baccalaureate degree.
"UW-Eau Claire is a tremendous higher education bargain because it offers so much value for the money," Soll says.
Financial aid director Kathy Sahlhoff said more than $34.5 million in grant, loan or student employment was awarded to UW-Eau Claire students last year. This compares to over $28 million awarded to students in 1995-96, a 23.4 percent increase in available resources in a three-year period.
Investing in higher education makes good economic sense, both for individuals and for state and national governments, Sahlhoff says. In 1997, college grads earned an average of $40,478 per year compared to an average of $22,895 for people with a high school diploma. This represents over $700,000 in increased earnings over a 40-year career.
"The investment extends to society," Sahlhoff says. A citizen with a college degree will pay significantly more in taxes during a lifetime than a person without a college degree. More important than financial gain, a more educated populace makes a stronger contribution to the cultural and democratic process and provides the supply of expertise and skills necessary for innovation and expansion of the economy.
The university's textbook rental system, its focus on student work opportunities and the service-learning degree requirement add to the value of a UW-Eau Claire education. "Employers are looking for students with work experience, not just high grade-point averages," Sahlhoff adds. "We believe our unique service-learning requirement is another aspect of UW-Eau Claire which contributes to our reputation for excellence."
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Oct. 26, 2000