'U' president wants to rework tuition accords

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- The president of the University of Minnesota wants Wisconsin students who attend his school to pay the same tuition as Minnesota students by 2007.

That would raise another $5 million in annual revenue for the university.

Wisconsin students who attend the university say the proposal is unfair and that the school risks losing bright students who come for an education and stay in Minnesota after graduation, working and paying taxes.

Eric Dyer, of Racine, Wis., the student body president on the Twin Cities campus, says the proposal essentially blames Wisconsin students for Minnesota's declining support for higher education.


University President Robert Bruininks made his proposal in a letter to new state higher-education chief Susan Heegaard, requesting that the Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity agreement be reworked.

Wisconsin students at the University of Minnesota's four campuses pay anywhere from 14 to 29 percent less in tuition and fees each year than Minnesota residents.

Some legislators also complain that the system unfairly benefits Wisconsin. One is Rep. Joe Opatz, DFL-St. Cloud, author of a bill to overhaul the program.

"This has been a real burr in the side of legislators and parents," he said. "Minnesotans simply can't understand how we can have an agreement with Wisconsin that allows their students to attend our universities at a lower price than our students. ... Not only are their students paying less here, but our students are paying more in Wisconsin."

Connie Hutchison executive secretary of the State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board, said she is willing to look at the proposal.

For the separate Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, the proposed change would mean about $1 million more in tuition revenue each year. A spokesperson said the system is studying the proposal.

Minnesota's reciprocity pacts with the Dakotas would not be affected.

The Minnesota-Wisconsin reciprocity program dates to 1969. It has been expanded and tweaked, and in fall 2002, 13,209 Minnesotans used the program to attend Wisconsin public universities, while 10,487 Wisconsin students came here.

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