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State rivalry goes beyond sports

James Taylor, News Writer
December 12, 2012
Filed under News, Top Stories

The rivalry between Minnesota and Wisconsin heats up anew — not on the gridiron or hard court  but throughout the world of academia. Universities on either side of the Mississippi River are contending for a shrinking pool of prospective students.

UW-Green Bay attracted 410 students this fall semester from outside of Wisconsin. The majority were citizens of Michigan or Minnesota. According to UWGB institutional research data, UWGB drew 102 transfer or new students from Minnesota.

According to UWGB Director of Admissions Pam Harvey-Jacobs, a reciprocity agreement, dating back to 1965, allows citizens from Minnesota or Wisconsin to enroll in universities on either side of the river without incurring out-of-state tuition fees.

Birthrates in both states have been dwindling, and this trend is expected to continue. This has caused universities from both states to ramp-up recruitment efforts, targeting high school students from both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Tuition reciprocity is a key message.

It was an important message to Shelby Johnson, a former resident of Oconto, Wis., who chose to attend UM-Twin Cities.

“Some of my choices for college were private schools, and they didn’t offer any sort of discount for an out-of-state student,” Johnson said. “The fact I wouldn’t pay out-of-state tuition at a private school made my decision easier. The reciprocity agreement played a big role in my decision.”

During the 2011-12 academic  year, about 10,500 Wisconsinites attended public institutions in Minnesota, while about 14,500 Minnesotans enrolled in Wisconsin public schools, according to data from the Minnesota-Wisconsin Interstate Tuition Reciprocity Agreement.

According to the agreement, neither state may profit from the deal. The two states resolve financial differences at the end of each fiscal year.

Since the beginning of the agreement, roughly 3,000 to 4,000 more students from Minnesota cross state lines to attend Wisconsin institutions than those choosing to head west to Minnesota each year.

Although financial incentive is alluring, a former Woodbury, Minn., resident said the choice to attend UWGB wasn’t made solely with the reciprocity agreement in mind.

“I wanted to go somewhere that was different from other colleges, and UWGB offered that,” said Ciara Wohlford, UWGB sophomore communication major. “Tuition reciprocity was only a small part. I wanted to get involved in something, and there are many different organizations here.”

At UWGB, the difference between paying in-state versus out-of-state tuition fees is noteworthy. An out-of-state student taking 12 or more credits will pay $7,610 per semester compared to $3,824 for a Wisconsin resident. The reciprocity agreement allows Minnesota citizens to pay $4,067 per semester — a savings of $3,543.

However, starting next fall, Wisconsin students will have to pay full out-of-state tuition if attending Minnesota schools. Budgeting for supplemental tuition has been revoked by Wisconsin’s Legislature due to pressure to cut spending.

According to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the move will save Wisconsin taxpayers an estimated $2.6 million from 2012-13.

This won’t deter Minnesota residents from attending Wisconsin schools, however, as the Minnesota Legislature doesn’t intend to end funding for supplemental tuition.

Attending a college that offers students an opportunity to meet new people and experience a new culture will continue to bring Minnesota residents like Wohlford onto Wisconsin campuses and to UWGB.

“The atmosphere on this campus is why I moved it to the top of my list,” Wohlford said.