At Madison, a Plan to Charge More and Deliver More

March 27, 2009

The University of Wisconsin at Madison is proposing a surcharge on all students from family incomes of at least $80,000 to pay for needed services oriented toward undergraduate education that current levels of state support don't cover. The Madison Initiative for Undergraduates would pay for 75 additional faculty slots, plus improved student services. "Both cost and quality are important to our students and their families," said Biddy Martin, the chancellor, in explaining the concept. In materials explaining the program, Madison officials noted that many students can't get into key courses for their majors -- so the lack of faculty positions is forcing them to take longer to graduate. The extra payments -- which would be on top of any tuition increases approved for the university system -- would start at $250 for Wisconsin residents and $750 for out-of-state residents, and would grow over four years to $1,000 for residents and $3,000 for non-residents. An editorial in The Badger Herald, a student newspaper, raised some questions about the plan, but also praised it as "a necessary and dynamic step for UW and one that, even in the face of a harsh recession, will lead to a much-needed boost in the quality and accessibility of our university."

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