Ten of 13 UW System campuses are facing deficits in their tuition funds, according to data shared by the system.
As the university released the information, System President Jay Rothman said he is hopeful the state will invest more in the system to avoid staffing and program cuts.
“I think that what we have to look at is can we further enhance working with the state to make the investment to avoid that,” Rothman told reporters in a virtual call. “At the end of the day, you never cut your way to success, you just can’t do that.”
Rothman made the pitch as the Joint Finance Committee prepares to decide how much funding to provide for the system. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has called for the system to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and hinted at a spending cut if the system doesn’t comply.
Rothman said he doesn’t believe the system has faced deficits like what universities face now. UW System spokesperson Mark Pitsch did not provide details on how much tuition fund money is available to each institution.
The data show projected deficits for Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Oshkosh, Parkside, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Superior and Whitewater. UW-Milwaukee has the most significant projected deficit at $18.8 million and UW-Superior has the smallest at $400,107.
Altogether, the deficits at the 10 campuses total just over $60.1 million.
“We need to face economic reality, and we need to face the fact that if we don’t make further investment in this state, we are not going to win the war for talent. And that’s not going to be good for anyone living in Wisconsin,” Rothman said.
He said while the campuses facing deficits have the resources to deal with them for now, “it’s not a long-term solution.”
“You cannot continue to consume your savings and expect to be successful. And we have to have at least a reasonable level of reserves to deal with any shocks that we may have in the system,” Rothman said, citing the pandemic as an example.
Rothman also said a new report showing the UW System ranks 42nd for public funding for four-year colleges nationally is “another sobering reminder of how far we are behind in state funding at the UW system.”
The public funding amount for the state in 2022 was $6,599 per student — 69 percent of the national average. The findings come from this year’s State Higher Education Finance report for 2022 by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.
The report also shows Wisconsin is the only state where education revenue for two-year colleges exceeds the amount for the state’s four-year institutions. In Wisconsin, revenue for two-year colleges is 6.4 percent higher.
See the deficit data:
See the report: