Consensus opinion seems to be against the UW System for their proposal to raise in-state tuition while cutting nonresident tuition. While I understand the arguments that the UW System should serve Wisconsin students first, I actually (conditionally) think the plan might not be that bad of an idea. (I will explain in a subsequent post how anal warts actually make you a better Scrabble player.)

In 2005-06, in-state students pay $4,277 per year for tuition (at the non-Milwaukee/Madison schools). Out-of-staters pay $14,323 to go to the same schools, or more than three times as much as the in-staters. The UW has likely found that out of state tuition has reached a tipping point – when it reaches a certain level, out of state students stop coming, and take their nearly $15,000 with them (would you rack up $60,000 in debt to go to Platteville for four years?).

This hurts in-state students, as they are left to make up the difference through their tuition. It is actually in the in-state students’ best interest to have more out-of-state students in the system, since each out-of-stater pays for three in-staters to go to school.

The statistics from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau bear this out. According to the LFB, the non-Minnesota nonresidents make up 30.3% of the total students, yet pay in 60% of the total tuition at UW-Madison. For the entire UW system, non-Minnesota nonresidents makeup 19% of the undergrads, yet pay in 33.3% of the total tuition. So it’s clearly in everyone’s best interest to have more out-of-staters here to carry the tuition load.

My support of the plan is conditioned on two caveats (incidentally, my endorsement and $1.50 will get you a bus ride to Hilldale Mall). First, the new out-of-state students shouldn’t displace in-state students, as the UW has said they won’t. Secondly, the UW actually needs to take this new revenue from out-of-staters and use it to hold tuition down for in-state students, rather than just treating it as new revenue and going on as usual.

Nobody has made more fun of the UW than I, but I do think this could actually work if done correctly. It’s not as if the UW has built up the goodwill necessary for people to trust them on fiscal matters.

Of course, this timely post likely won\’t be enough to sway the bloggers who have already ripped the plan. Stay tuned for more news from two weeks ago (I am actually 100% for the girl who ripped John McCain in her graduation speech, by the way).