Six years after public and political outcry over how much the University of Wisconsin System had on hand in unspent tuition money, a report released this fall shows the System has spent down more than half of its tuition balances.
The balances refer to how much tuition and student fees campuses collect to spend on direct education expenses, such as faculty and academic supplies, remain at the end of each fiscal year after all expenses are paid.
To force campuses to spend down their extra funds, the Legislature froze tuition for in-state undergraduates in 2013 and also cut state funding in recent years. The System has responded by spending down 56% of its tuition balances since fiscal year 2013 to cover campuses’ operating expenses.
“We need to remember this represents not even thirty-five days of operating expenses for our campuses,” Regent Janice Mueller told the UW Board of Regents this fall about the tuition balances level, which was $245 million for the fiscal year ending June 30.
That figure is the lowest recorded since the System began producing reports five years ago in response to Republican demands for more transparency of the accounts.
It’s almost as if they have so much money that they don’t know what to do with it.