Wisconsin Technical College System keeps tuition affordable

The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board approved a 4.5 percent tuition increase for vocational adult education and a 5.5 percent increase for collegiate transfer courses beginning with the 2012 summer session. Resident vocational adult students will pay $5.05 more per credit and collegiate transfer students will see an increase of $8.25 per credit.

The tuition increase is below the national average of 8.7 percent and the Midwest regional average of 5.2 percent. University of Wisconsin two-year colleges raised tuition 5.5 percent in 2011-12.  Perhaps most noteworthy is the relatively low tuition increase considering a recent 30 percent cut in technical college funding from the state.

Cost per student

For a full-time student taking 15 credits a semester, the new tuition rates would mean an increase of $75.75 per semester for postsecondary/vocational adult students and $123.75 per semester for collegiate transfer students.

A Tuition Working Group made up of six WTCS State Board members considered effects of changes in the state budget, the cap on colleges’ operational property tax levy, and a 30 percent reduction in state aid before recommending the approved increase. They also considered recommendations of college presidents as well as comments from student government leaders, student budgets and the availability of financial aid.

Under state statute, postsecondary/vocational adult program tuition must recover at least 14 percent of the statewide average operational costs and collegiate transfer program tuition must cover not less than 31 percent of operational costs. The newly adopted rates will cover a projected 22.8 percent of operational costs for vocational programs and a projected 46.2 percent of collegiate transfer costs. Overall, the 2012-13 tuition will cover 24.8 percent of operational costs, a 0.6 percent increase from the 2011-12 tuition.

Graduates find value, jobs

Recent surveys show a majority of graduates of Wisconsin’s technical colleges are satisfied with their education and feel it is a good value. Our graduates usually find work within six months of graduation and earn good salaries. These graduates also have fewer student loans to repay. All in all, technical education is a good investment for students and for the state in workforce development leading to economic development.