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Press release: Madison Initiative for Undergraduates promises quality, affordability

The Madison Initiative for Undergraduates, a major effort to preserve the quality of a University of Wisconsin-Madison education and improve its affordability, was announced today (March 25) by Chancellor Biddy Martin.

The initiative proposes a supplemental tuition charge to improve the quality and long-term value of an undergraduate education while ensuring that affordability will no longer be a significant barrier to getting a UW-Madison degree.

“Both cost and quality are important to our students and their families,” says Martin.

The chancellor notes that UW-Madison students are having increasing difficulty getting access to needed courses and majors and to vital student services. In addition, the chancellor emphasizes that the university’s current unmet financial need is $20 million a year.

“With the funding from the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates, we will add faculty and instructional support, student services and need-based financial aid,” Martin says. “For every dollar of tuition revenue we use for financial aid, we will raise at least $1 from private sources.”

The funding comes from a supplemental tuition charge for UW-Madison students to be phased in during the next four years.

In-state students will pay a supplemental tuition charge that grows cumulatively by $250 per year over a four-year period. Out-of-state students will pay a supplemental tuition charge that grows cumulatively by $750 per year over the four-year period.

To ensure affordability of the opportunity to attend UW-Madison, in-state and out-of-state students who are eligible for need-based financial aid and whose families earn $80,000 or less will receive grants to offset the supplemental tuition charge.

“UW-Madison cannot wait to address the challenges we face,” says Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration. “It is becoming harder for low- and middle-income students to afford a college education and more urgent that they finish on time and enter the economy prepared. We need to meet these challenges head-on. When fully implemented, UW-Madison tuition – both in-state and out-of-state – will remain in the lower half of the Big Ten.”

Money from this tuition adjustment will also go toward restoring about 75 faculty positions and additional instructional support that had to be eliminated in recent years, a move that will provide needed access to in-demand majors and gateway courses, such as those in biology, math, chemistry, Spanish and economics, says Gary Sandefur, dean of the College of Letters and Science.

Providing better access to these courses improves student progress and ensures that they graduate with the knowledge, abilities and skills they need for a range of careers.

“Getting access to these majors and core courses is key to the undergraduate experience, to the preparation of our students for the job market and to even more timely graduation for our students – something that becomes more of a priority in these difficult economic times,” says Julie Underwood, interim provost.

The funding will also encourage curricular and teaching innovations, including technology-assisted learning, and provide a more integrated learning experience, Underwood says.

Madison Initiative for Undergraduates funding will also strengthen important student services, including career counseling, first-year interest groups, peer mentoring, disabled student services, service-learning projects, and expanding internship opportunities.

“Parents and students expect us to provide an exemplary undergraduate education and prepare students for an increasingly complex world,” Martin adds.

Two campus forums on the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates have been set to gather feedback.

The first will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, in Room 19 of Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Drive. Another forum, sponsored by the Associated Students of Madison, has been set for 4-5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 30, in Room C6 of Gordon Commons, 717 W. Johnson St.

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