Reciprocity, only not

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published March 1, 2007  | March 2007 issue

Wisconsin has long had a tuition reciprocity agreement with Minnesota for residents who want to go to public universities in the other state. But that decades-long agreement is in jeopardy because the Badger State is currently seen as getting the better end of the deal.

Reciprocity allows students to cross the state border to attend college, but pay the tuition rate of their home state. That agreement worked well until about a half-dozen years ago, when tuition at the University of Minnesota started getting ahead of tuition at the University of Wisconsin. Today, a Wisconsin resident pays about $1,200 less than a Minnesota resident to attend the UM-Twin Cities campus.

That doesn't mean that gophers are subsidizing badgers; the reciprocity agreement requires that the two states settle up for the difference. Last year, Wisconsin paid $6.5 million to Minnesota. But that money goes to the state's general fund, and not to the university, which the university sees as lost tuition revenue.

The University of Minnesota has suggested that it might pull out of the agreement altogether, making border-crossing students from both states pay nonresident tuition, which runs two to three times higher. Wisconsin officials have said neither students nor its state universities should be penalized for keeping a tighter line on tuition.

Ronald A. Wirtz