Bill tweaking college tuition reciprocity deal with Minnesota gains momentum in Wisconsin Legislature

Rich Kremer:

An effort to rework a tuition reciprocity agreement with Minnesota that would send millions of additional dollars to Wisconsin universities is gaining momentum with state lawmakers. But as drafted, the legislation could temporarily kill reciprocity if Minnesota officials don’t approve.

Under the decades-old reciprocity agreement, students from Minnesota and Wisconsin pay in-state tuition costs while attending public universities in their neighboring state. Since tuition costs more at Minnesota universities, Wisconsin receives a “differential” that varies based on what tuition expenses are at University of Wisconsin campuses. For example, Minnesota students attending UW-River Falls pay around $5,883 per year, while tuition for Wisconsin students attending the same school is around $3,896. 

Under the current reciprocity agreement, any extra money from Minnesota students is sent to Wisconsin’s general fund. This year, a bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill requiring that money to instead be sent to the UW System school enrolling those students from across the border.

During a public hearing Thursday, UW-River Falls Chancellor Maria Gallo told members of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee the shift would have a big impact on her campus.