A statewide conversation has started again over funding for the UW System and a tuition freeze in place since 2013. The chancellor of UW-Green Bay tells Local 5 it is time that freeze came to an end.

After four years of a tuition freeze – leading to cuts on the UW-Green Bay campus, Chancellor Gary Miller is hopeful a discussion can begin about the need to again invest in higher education.

“We have to have an investment if we are going to meet the needs of business and the communities in this region,” Miller said.

This week the UW System outlined highlights of its budget request for the next biennium. Included was a call for a $42 million increase in state funding over two years and an end to the current tuition freeze. Something Governor Scott Walker’s spokesman has said the governor wants extended “to make college more affordable for students and working families.” 

“We don’t think this is an ask for money – we think this is a commitment to the future,” Miller said.

Miller says the tuition freeze and cuts in state funding have cost UW-Green Bay much.

“We’ve had to cut back on student advising, classes, other sorts of student support,” said Miller.

The chancellor says all that – along with fewer class offerings means some students are now taking longer to graduate, which in turn means they are paying more tuition. 

“I would say enough is enough,” said Representative Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay).

Genrich says he supports the tuition freeze, but believes the state needs to help colleges deal with the loss in revenue by providing more funding.

“The most important thing we need to do is recognize the positive economic impact the UW System has across Wisconsin and invest in that economic driver,” said Genrich.

“When you are getting to the point where you are trying to hold together quality by a shoestring, you are in danger of damaging a precious resource,” said Miller.

The UW System’s budget request will be discussed by the Board of Regents next week.