Must Minnesotans pay $1,300 more in Madison, Milwaukee?

Soon more expensive?

I’m tracking down people to confirm this, but I’ll give you the scenario I’m seeing/hearing right now:

A reclassification of the University of Minnesota’s tuition and fees means Minnesotans who wish to attend the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee may have to pay an additional $1,300 to study there this fall.

The U is rolling its $1,300 annual “university fee” — a $650-per-semester fee originally meant to support things such as libraries and academic support — into tuition, said Sue Van Voorhis, director of academic support resources. That’s because the fee is being used more and more to fund instruction, she said, which is really what tuition is for.

For U students, it makes no difference, because they end up paying the same amount no matter how it’s all classified.

But the restructuring may hit Minnesota students studying at those two Wisconsin schools.

Here’s why:

Under the states’ tuition reciprocity agreement, Minnesotans who go to Madison or Milwaukee pay the U of M’s in-state tuition. Last year, that was about $9,800 annually, or $4,897 per semester.

(The agreement states that students crossing the border in either direction pay the higher in-state rate, which tends to be Minnesota’s. Those attending Madison pay the U of M – Twin Cities tuition, because they’re considered equivalent schools. Those attending Milwaukee pay the U of M – Duluth tuition for the same reason.)

Minnesota students also pay whatever fees the Madison or Milwaukee campuses charge, said Susannah Brooks of Madison’s university communications department.

Under the reclassification, those students would have to pay that $9,800 (I’m using last year’s tuition to make the example easier) in Minnesota tuition plus the $1,300 annual university fee as well as whatever fees are charged by the Wisconsin campuses.

The change doesn’t appear to affect those attending other Wisconsin public universities — such as River Falls and Stout — because students there pay a Minnesota tuition that’s based on the rate at MnSCU’s universities, which is lower. But I’ve also heard that tuition is based on a weighted average of the U and MnSCU universities, in which case the impact should be minimal, about $15-30.

The total possible increase is a rough number, because it could depend on colleges’ varying fees, a student’s course load, etc. The Milwaukee campus has separate rates for on- and off-campus undergrads, but I’m not sure yet what role that plays.

Voorhis said she only had knowledge about the reclassification itself, so I’ve got calls in elsewhere.