Letter to the Editor: The real price of tuition at UW Oshkosh

Jordyn Henrich

How is the freeze on UW Oshkosh tuition still costing students?

Tuition rates in the University of Wisconsin System have been frozen since 2013, as stated on the Badgers United website, which also noted it’s the “longest-running and most-restrictive tuition freeze in the nation.” A tuition freeze indicates that there will be zero increase in tuition costs for a set period.

To keep tuition frozen, the Wisconsin Legislature has had to renew the tuition freeze every two years. For example, according to the University of Wisconsin System Budget & Planning, UWO’s tuition cost has been $3,211.08 since the initial freeze in 2013. Yet, despite this fact, students have still seen the total cost of attending UWO rise.

One way the university has been raising the cost is through segregated fees. In the past five years, the cost of UWO’s segregated fees has increased by $145.88 per student each year. The Student and Financial Services at UWO show each undergraduate student pays $1,311.30 per year in segregated fees. Although this amount doesn’t seem significant compared to the overall tuition price, it is one way that universities in the UW System have increased costs for students while tuition prices are frozen.

Inevitably with rising inflation rates, the Wisconsin Legislature cannot freeze tuition costs forever. So what can we expect after the freeze ends on tuition rates at UW Oshkosh? Using a simple Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculation, we can determine the real value of tuition today. For example, taking the tuition rate from 2013 and plugging it into a CPI calculator, our answer is $4,073. If tuition rates at UWO were to be unfrozen, this number is a reasonable estimate of the cost of tuition per semester adjusted to what consumers are willing to pay.

In the case that Wisconsin’s Legislature vetoes a tuition freeze, we can estimate our tuition to increase by about $1,724 per year. An article in the February 2022 Badger Herald states we do not have to worry about increasing tuition costs for the next two years as Gov. Tony Evers has said the UW System would be receiving $25 million to continue the tuition freeze.

Overall, rising tuition rates are not expected in the near future, but they are still something to think about while pursuing higher education in Wisconsin.