As you can see, the calculations show the Chained-CPI tuition structure is moderate and predictable.
While discussing this plan, concerns have been raised regarding another popular national narrative regarding increasing student debt. The current tuition freeze has, in many ways, transformed to be a response to those concerns. However, if we are to justify a continuation of this freeze based on student debt load, it is essential to clarify what student debt looks like at UW-Madison.
Currently, more than 50% of undergraduate students graduate with ZERO student debt. The school’s default rate is 1.3%, which is considerably lower than that national average of 10.2%. Success in this area has been driven by programs like Bucky’s tuition promise, made possible by private donors, which guarantees 4-years of free tuition for in-state families who earn less than $60,000/year.
As with all conversations, we must approach the subject with nuance. When looking at the data regarding student debt, it is necessary to separate undergraduate and graduate debt as well as to demarcate public vs. private institutions. These delineations are critical as the data finds high student debt is largely driven by expensive private institutions and high-debt advanced degrees.
Another crucial part of the debt conversation revolves around future earning potential from degrees, another area in which UW-Madison excels – 50%+ of the school’s graduates are making more than the average WI resident five years out of school.
To keep our public higher education competitive in Wisconsin, it is time that we step back and look at the whole ecosystem of higher education – not just the families that are sending their students to our universities.