State budget increases financial aid
A state budget providing additional student financial aid, university budget reductions and significant new initiatives at UW-Madison was presented to the Legislature last week by Gov. Jim Doyle.
Doyle’s 2009–11 budget includes a $12 million increase to the UW System for need-based financial aid, along with $24 million in new funds for the Higher Education Aids Board and UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Higher Education Grant program.
That new aid would offset tuition increases for resident undergraduate students with documented need whose families earn up to the median family income of $60,000.
Additionally, the federal economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama on the same day Doyle unveiled his budget provides a $500 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, expanded work-study funding and refundable tax credits for families working to cover tuition and other educational expenses.
“This budget includes increased aid for low- and middle-income students and, in combination with the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the federal level, will help preserve student access and affordability,” said Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin.
The added student aid provisions were also backed by UW System President Kevin Reilly.
“For the first time ever, we’ve worked to protect more hardworking students and families from tuition increases, even in the midst of today’s formidable financial crisis,” Reilly said.
Doyle, in a speech to a joint session of the Legislature, said the student aid increases are among the few funding increase in his spending plan.
The budget also includes important initiatives for UW-Madison, including:
- $8.2 million for startup funds for the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery.
- $8 million for the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, run out of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Center on campus.
- $2 million for the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative, to allow the School of Medicine and Public Health, UW-Milwaukee, the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marshfield Clinic to work to predict a person’s susceptibility to disease, target treatments and prevent disease before it occurs.
- $15 million for faculty retention and recruitment systemwide, with an estimated $7.8 million for UW-Madison.
- Inclusion of domestic partnership benefits.
“The budget also includes strategic investment in university research that has the ability to stimulate the state’s economy, provide jobs and find solutions to some of the world’s most urgent problems. These investments and the research they permit are important to Wisconsin’s families in these very tough times,” said Martin.
In addition, the chancellor says the budget makes a critical investment in retaining top faculty.
“Keeping our best and brightest faculty members and recruiting other world-class scholars to Madison are essential to the state. The university’s pre-eminence attracts the people and resources that enable discovery and allow us to serve the public good,” she said.
Because of the $5.7 billion projected state budget deficit, UW System schools will also face budget reductions.
Doyle’s budget reduces the amount of state tax support for the UW System by $100 million during the biennium. UW-Madison’s share of those reductions has not yet been determined. Additionally, it calls for cuts of 1 percent on all internal funds.
“We will continue to do our best, despite the challenges of budget cuts, to help the state regain its financial footing — making necessary budget reductions while preserving educational opportunity and world-class research, teaching and outreach,” Martin says.
In a campuswide e-mail, Martin said that four campuswide brainstorming sessions on responding on the opportunities and challenges faced by the university in a recessionary economy held in December and January developed thoughtful ideas for being more efficient and effective.
The chancellor expects that additional sessions will be scheduled. Details of those sessions have not yet been announced, but to add your thoughts and read those of others, visit http://www.chancellor.wisc.edu/forum.