UW System Budget Request Seeks Additional $262.6 Million

The University of Wisconsin System is seeking $262.6 million in additional state funding in its two-year budget request and plans to use the bulk of that to boost employee pay by 8 percent by 2025.

Inflation was a major theme on Thursday as the UW System Board of Regents discussed its 2023-25 biennial budget request. UW-Milwaukee Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administrative Affairs Robin Van Harpen told members the university has felt some impact from rising costs, but expects the full brunt to hit in the coming year and beyond.  “The pressure on salaries and wages is like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” said Van Harpen.

UW System President Jay Rothman is also seeking $24.5 million through 2025 for a tuition waiver program for students from low-income families at all universities except UW-Madison.  The Wisconsin Tuition Promise would cover remaining student costs not covered by financial aid for students from families with annual incomes below $62,000 starting in the fall of 2023.

Before unanimously approving the UW’s budget request Thursday, some regents expressed concern that the system is not seeking an increase in tuition rates for in-state, undergraduate students.

In-state tuition for undergraduates has been frozen for a decade, either at the direction of state lawmakers or regents. The 2021-23 state budget lifted the freeze, which lawmakers first instated in 2013, but UW system officials opted not to raise tuition in their last budget.

Regent Ashok Rai said continuing the freeze indefinitely is not sustainable.

“At some point in time, we’re going to need to seriously consider taking our in-state tuition up a modest amount,” said Rai.

How the UW System’s request for an additional $262.6 million in state support will be received depends on who wins the governor’s office in November and crafts a 2023-25 state budget proposal.