Wednesday, April 30, 2014

College-age Women Are Heaviest Binge Drinkers, by Mikayla Peters

College-age women, age 18-24, have the highest rate of binge drinking. One in four college-age women admit to binge drinking in the nation.

Wisconsin ranks first in the nation for binge drinking, according to the Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior Coalition's report. LaCrosse county has one of the highest rates of binge drinking in the state.

According to the study, 35% of adults in LaCrosse binge drink on a regular basis. 36% of college students in LaCrosse binge drink. One in five high-school students in LaCrosse admits  to binge drinking.
A nationwide study shows one in eight women binge drinks.

Binge drinking is consuming four or more drinks in one sitting for women, five or more for men. The CDC did a study that showed the women consume six drinks in one sitting, three times per month.

71% of UW-L students use alcohol once a week, according to a UW-L survey. 10% admit to binge drinking. UW-L offers resources to students with drinking problems, including the Counseling & Testing Center or the Wellness Resource Center. claimed UW-L was first in the nation for alcohol arrests in 2012. Joe Gow, the chancellor at UW-L, said that Oktoberfest may have an impact on the arrests and drinking. He also said, "I really don't think the alcohol situation here at UW-L is any worse or any better than it is at the other places I've been."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Earbuds Can Damage Hearing, by Mikayla Peters

Hearing loss in teens is “30% higher than it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” according to the Journal of American Medical Association.

The smaller headphones become, the more dangerous they become. Earbuds are the worst, because they are placed directly in the ear canal. Their maximum volume is 110 decibels, the same as a rock concert.

A UW-L sophomore said, “I always knew it was loud, but I’m just trying to block out the other noises around me.”  Just because earbuds are more stylish, the larger headphones that do not enter the ear are safer. To avoid turning up the music, find headphones that are noise-canceling, or risk hearing loss.

Loss of hearing can lead to dementia over time. Dr. Frank Lin, a professor of medicine, says “With bad hearing, your brain has to allocate more of its resources to help with hearing.”

Hearing loss doesn’t just affect teens. 16% of American adults have hearing loss linked to high-volume headphones, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To avoid or prevent hearing loss, listen to music below 70%. Do not max out the volume, and limit time spent using headphones. Listening to music at full volume for more than an hour can cause permanent damage in less than 5 years. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Time in College Still Increasing, by Sam Giunta

            College students are spending more time in college and feeling pressure to attain greater degrees just to get a job.
            College students feel that they need to go to school longer to get the job they wish upon graduating, regardless of employers’ evaluation of applications for a job opening,  A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sophomore says, “my psych[ology] major isn’t going to get me anywhere if I don’t go to graduate school, but that’s an extra three years!” 
            Students say they will need to go to school for an extra semester or even two semesters to finish off their bachelor’s degree.  “Super seniors” complain not only about the extra time they must spend in school and the money they are not making, but the money they must spend in order to get them a job upon graduation. 

“It feels like my resume defines me as an employee instead of my interview and the characteristics I would display in it,” says a University of Wisconsin-Madison senior as she struggles to look for a job by May.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wisconsin’s Tornado & Severe Weather Awareness Week, by Stella Nathan

“Wisconsin’s Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week” concludes today. Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually. Tornadoes can happen at any time, but April through August is peak tornado season in Wisconsin.

The information provided by ReadyWisconsin most people already know to do in case of a tornado or severe weather. However there are some things that may surprise people. If you are in a car while a tornado hits, it is advised that if you cannot reach shelter, to pull over and keep your seat belt on. You are to sit in your seat and place your head below the windows. Something else advised by ReadyWisconsin was that you do not seek shelter under an overpass.  Living in a mobile home, even if it is tied down is not a safe place to be during severe weather and tornadoes. If you are in a mobile home, you will want to leave your home and go to a designated storm shelter.

People know that they are to go into a basement when severe weather hits. But some may be surprised to know that ReadyWisconsin advises people to wear bike helmets to protect their heads. If you are at home or in another building avoid windows! You can seek shelter under sturdy tables or stairs. If there is no basement try and find a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor. A bathtub can also be used to seek shelter. Cover yourself in blankets and pillows. Something else that people may not be aware of is that they are supposed to keep personal documentation safe. Personal documentation includes birth certificates, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, insurance policies, and family and emergency contact information.

ReadyWisconsin advises people to listen, act and live. It is important to know how to keep yourself and others safe in the case of severe weather, even when you are not at home.

At school, follow the drill that is in place. Stay away from windows and large open rooms such as gyms and auditoriums or any place with a free-span roof. Do not use elevators. Do not talk loudly or rough house. It is important to listen, be alert, and follow directions.

Whether you are at home, work, school, or outdoors, you and other people around you should have a plan. You should know where the safest shelter areas are in multiple locations. You should have a disaster supply kit in your home, and car and make sure you know where the first aid kit is at work. A disaster supply kit should include water and food that won’t spoil or doesn’t need to be prepared with heat. People can also make a kit or buy one.

 According to the Red Cross, you should pack things in your kit that suit the needs of your family or whoever is likely to be around you during an emergency.  You might need things for your pet or extra formula and diapers for a baby. Make sure that you check your kit regularly and update it accordingly. You will need batteries and flashlights that work, band-aids, battery powered or hand crank radios, sanitation items, blankets, and copies of personal documentations. Visit the Red Cross, ReadyWisconsin or contact Tod Pritchard at or 608-242-3324 for more information.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

UWL Tuition Is "Middle of the Road," by Danielle Cook

            UW-La Crosse is participating in the nationwide tuition hikes. Recent statistics from the College Board organization explain that the university is, in fact, in the middle of the road for secondary education costs. On top of that, UW-L will be experiencing a two-year tuition freeze, perhaps four years.
            As a general figure, the increase in average in-state tuition nationwide is much less for the 2013-14 academic year than in past years. Students previously paid 4.5% more in 2012-13, and are now experiencing a small increase of 2.9%, the lowest percentage increase in the past 30 years. The median published tuition and fee cost for the 2013-14 school year is $11,093, including major research campuses. For flagship universities across the country, tuition rests at both financial extremes. At Penn State, tuition sits at $17,926 per semester, whereas Wyoming has the lowest tuition and fees, at $4,404. Currently, UW-L’s tuition is at $8,902 per semester. The estimated total cost for the average national campus is $16,584 for the 2013-14 year, with the average public Master’s in-state tuition and fees being $7,750.
The UW System has 181,000 students at 26 campuses throughout the state. Included in these 26 educational centers are 13 four-year universities. Comparing UW-L to the rest of the University of Wisconsin System, tuition and fees are just slightly higher in-state for UW-L. Excluding UW-Madison, the state average cost is $7,913, resulting in a difference of over ten percent between UW-L and the rest of Wisconsin. The state’s tuition and fees have grown on a typical scale. Over the past five years, the average in-state tuition and fees has increased at a rate of 25%.
UW-L freshman Alex Reina explained, “If college tuition continues to increase, my future plans for getting a good education may be jeopardized. I may not be able to pay for it if it goes too high, since my parents have a specific amount of money set aside for me. After that money is used up, paying for college is up to me personally.”
For in-state students at leading Ph.D.-granting universities in 19 states, tuition is actually lower than that for in-state students at UW-L. At the University of Oklahoma, tuition is currently at $8,705.50, with the next highest other than UW-L being the University of Maryland at $8,909. UW-L falls between the two. The University of Wyoming boasts the lowest in-state tuition out of the flagship universities. For a full year, two semesters of school, students paid a mere $4,278 in 2012-2013. In comparison, UW-L students were required to pay $4,377 for only one semester of education. In the 2013-14 school year, the University of Wyoming’s tuition rose just slightly, to $4,404 in-state. Penn State University has the highest in-state tuition per semester, with tuition and fees amounting to $17,266 per semester.
Ranked nationally, the UW System holds the 21st highest tuition, placing it in the more expensive 50% of the U.S. Wyoming, as expected, has the lowest average tuition and fees for in-state students. In Wyoming, the average tuition is $2,432 per semester. To put that number in perspective, the yearly average tuition for Wyoming amounts to less than $300 over half of UW-L’s cost per semester. New Hampshire has the highest average tuition and fees in-state, with the average student paying $14,576.
With UW System tuition frozen, universities are beginning to consider how student costs will be rearranged to accommodate the lack of funds. Universities are not going to neglect to ensure they can maintain daily standards of education. Therefore, cost shifts will occur throughout the system, since one form of funding for schools will be no longer available to increase. For example, increases could occur in housing, food, and other areas, all out of the realm of the statewide tuition freeze. Students’ tuition may not go up, but that does not mean other categories of funding will stop their increasing trend.
Junior Hannah McLean also noted, “My personal concern is having to take out loans for tuition, since it’s not my out-of-pocket money. After I graduate, I’m going to have to pay that back, with interest, which can really add up.”

Although a tuition freeze may appear to help students avoid rising tuition costs, money will still be siphoned from them to go towards other necessary functions of campus. However, with Wisconsin and specifically UW-L’s tuition and fees resting in the middle of two extremes – high and low tuition bills, paying for college is still a burden that students everywhere face and is not likely to be minimized any time soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Working, Borrowing, & More to Pay for College, by Stella Nathan

 A generation ago, it was typical for families to support their college students financially, but now as the cost of school and debt increases, expenses for college can no longer be “pay as you go.“

A college professor in English at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse stated that when he was going to school his parents could just write a check and pay for his tuition. 30 years ago it was the parents’ responsibility to pay for their child’s tuition.  Even if the college students had jobs, it was not typical that they had the job in order to help them pay for college.

 But now, it is almost essential for students to have jobs and work their way through college because parents simply cannot afford to pay the costs of college all by themselves.

The majority of students say they have jobs. Some have jobs just for extra pocket money, but other students are expected to help out and pay for their tuition. Some parents are not helping their child pay for school at all.

The results of school bills rising also affects the number of years students are spending in school. Students have to get jobs as well as focus on school. College is now 3 to 6 years long, when 30 years ago it was 4 years at most.

About 15 percent, 1400 students, are working on the UWL campus itself. On average, the UWL students are working about 7-9 hours per week. Some students work more hours but the maxim limit students are allowed to work on campus is 20 hours a week. 40 to 50 percent of
human resource students work off campus while working for the school. The financial aid office at UWL as well as the career services at UWL were not able to say how many students are working off campus in general, because they are not provided that information.

A student at UWL was quoted in the Racquet as saying that he was surprised by how many hours that he had to work during school. This student thought that his workload plus the added stress of school was even more than what he would be expected to do after he graduates and has a career.  The accuracy of this can be questioned, but his statements just go to show how tough it is to manage school and work. Students are thinking that it cannot be worse than this. That once they get a career, it won’t be as stressful as being a student in college and working at the same time. 

UWL students and families have to come up with coping skills to pay for college because of the costs. About 50 percent of undergraduate UWL students receive need based aid. The average scholarship or grant award is 5,185. In 2012, 71 percent of UWL graduates took out loans.  4 percent of parents are borrowing from the parent plus loan. Often times, parents and students are denied from the PLUS loans because they are deemed not to have enough money to be able to pay the loans back. Some of the federal loans are direct subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, Direct PLUS loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. Students are also awarded scholarships and grants. There are Academic scholarships, Creative arts/performance scholarships, Music/Drama scholarships, Minority scholarships, ROTC scholarships, Alumni affiliation scholarships, and Leadership scholarships. There are also work study programs that students can apply to be part of. 

The cost to attend the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse will vary depending on where the information is found. The total in-state cost for attendance at UWL is between $15,061 and 17,869. The cost for out-of-state attendance is between 22,634 and 25,442. In state tuition costs are 8,769 and out-of-state tuition costs are 16,342. Room and board will cost students about 6,000 dollars.

The average number of students who receive financial aid at UWL is 74 percent. In 2012, 71 percent of the students who graduated borrowed money from financial aid. The low number of students whose needs were fully met financially is staggering. Only about 17 percent of students got all of the aid that they needed. The government is helping out less and less. According to Bob Hetzel, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at UWL, the state used to pay 60 percent of students’ college costs by tuition subsidy, and now only 38 percent. The money that college students have to pay out of pocket has risen from 40 percent to 60 percent for tuition alone. Bob Hetzel believes that students will soon be paying almost entirely out of pocket with little to no state help. At some point, students will most likely be paying 90 percent of their college costs.

Hearing these numbers is frightening to parents and students. But the truth is that college students’ needs are less important right now in budget politics. “The needs and priorities of K-12 school students come first. Road work comes first, health care comes first, correction centers come first. That is where all the money goes. There is simply not enough money to go around and have it be distributed equally. The public is also not willing to pay more sales taxes or income tax,”  Hetzel explains.

UWL students are paying slightly more for differential tuition because the students voted that they want more teachers. So the teacher to student ratio is outstanding with more teachers being able to teacher smaller class sizes. But it costs to add more teachers. The UWL students voted and said they would rather pay a bit extra in place of having a more quality education. In 2012, the average debt that UWL graduates had was 24, 863. Bob Hetzel says that the debt has now risen to about 26,000 dollars. The national average is 28 thousand.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Building Projects Continue, with New Uncertainty, by Samantha Loomis

All University of Wisconsin system schools are experiencing the downward spiral of state-funded budget cuts; University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is not an exception. Despite these monetary setbacks most building and remodeling projects on UW-L’s campus are proceeding as scheduled. This is because the funds come from elsewhere than the “base budget,” either by state funding or student fees.  The recent complication is a possibility of the "tuition freeze" forcing re-allocation and cancellation of projects.

The state has priorities that outweigh those of secondary education. So health care, education for K-12, correctional facilities and transportation all get funding before higher education.

“You can’t charge a prisoner tuition, or a kindergartener, but you can charge a college student the cost of education,” said Bob Hetzel, chief budget officer at UW-L.

In 2013, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse had a base budget of about $218 million, with 14.28% coming from the state and 85.72% coming from charges to students. However, each year this state percentage is being reduced. In the 2011-13 biennium budget, UW-L had a total reduction of $7.91 million of state support, and in the 2013-15 biennium budget, UW-L experienced a reduction of $2.48 million.

In a Joint Planning and Budget Committee meeting in September 2013, Chancellor Joe Gow reported that the 2015-17 biennial budget will present significant challenges for UW-L and the system as a whole. These challenges refer to the biennial budget cuts UW system schools have been experiencing.  Within the last month, the chancellor has suggested that $24 million of "reserve" money for remodelling Wittich Hall may no longer be available if needed for regular operations because of the "freeze."

Despite these worries of budget cuts, in March of 2013, the State Building Commission approved five building projects totaling a cost of $155.8 million. A new science lab building replacing Cowley Hall will be $82 million funded by state tax dollars, and a second chilled water plant will be $8.4 million funded half by state tax dollars and half program revenue.

“Although the university’s operating budget has been reduced in the past several biennia, the funding for capital budget has not been reduced by the state,” said Doug Pearson , executive director of UW-L’s Facilities Planning and Management.

Tax dollars and capital budget come from the state while program revenue comes from specific fess. All of these can be included in the total reserve UW-L has. It comes from money not spent previously, including segregated fees set aside for certain projects. About 75% of the System’s current reserve money is accumulated from pro-rated projects in previous years.  Criticism of reserve funds led to the current tuition freeze and a proposal to extend it another two years, four altogether.

A second chilled water plant is to be added in order to support the air conditioning in the new student center and the new Cowley Hall. The current chilled water plant is not able to support these new buildings.
Also to support the new buildings, a 5KV Switchgear Project is scheduled to upgrade the electrical system on campus. The funding for this project will come from general purpose revenue and program revenue. The construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2015.

The parking ramp will add two additional levels because during the construction of Cowley Hall and the new student center two parking lots will be lost. The additional levels are making up for that loss. Parking ramp costs total $11.725 million with about half coming from program revenue supported borrowing and the rest from program revenue-cash, parking passes and fines.

The UW system tuition freeze doesn’t prevent student fee increase, especially student approved projects. In this way, many building projects receive funding from segregated fees or student fees.  However, all monies and buildings belong to the state, not the university specifically.  In 2009, the state removed about $5 million for constructing Eagle Hall and re-allocated it outside UW-L.  The governor has even suggested selling state buildings, including power plants and residence halls, and requiring universities to lease their own buildings.

Students voted to replace Cartwright Center with a new student center for $53.3 million funded completely by student and user fees. The new student center would be funded through student segregated fees. The fees would be applied gradually to tuition until 2016 when the project would be finished. Students currently pay $136.06 per semester for Cartwright Center and its basic costs to operate. A new student center is thought to cost about $55 million. Students would pay an additional $155 per semester fee per student for the next 30 years.

The fees would begin as a “step-up” fee. The fee accumulates each year as growth develops into the new overall segregated fee rate for the University Center. The fee step-up began in 2012 with $20, each year an additional $20 was added to the previous year’s balance. The final year, when the student center is finished, an additional $230 would be added, creating a total annual student fee of $310.

The Recreational Eagle Center is an additional building project. A referendum was voted on April 15, to require students to pay an additional $14 per year in segregated fees. Students are currently paying $54 per year to pay off the REC’s existing mortgage; the additional $14 would be added to make the annual student fee $68. The $14 increase will pay for about a 30,000 square foot addition. The REC remodel would be completely funded by these student fees.

The REC has a separate operating budget of $1.9 million to pay for basic necessities such as electricity and maintenance. Besides the operating budget, the REC collects $1.7 million in student fees and $190,000 in generated revenue.

In addition, Murphy Library’s Learning Center was recently remodeled. This was funded by UW-L’s Classroom Laboratory Modification budget.

“This budget is used to fund institutional priorities for academic and student support spaces,” said Pearson.
Murphy Library is in the process of getting enough funding through GPR. An architect is to be hired to appraise the construction costs for putting in a new circulation and a new reference desk as well as possibly reorganizing and relocating the library offices.

The design of the floor plan was changed to create an open environment with individual areas for departments, with computers in the middle for student use as well as SMART boards located throughout the center. Rooms for biology and microbiology tutoring, along with the Public Speaking Lab, are situated behind this main zone. The Writing Lab has an area of its own, said Danielle Cook’s article “Renovated Learning Center” in The Racquet.

There is ongoing construction in Graff auditorium. It is an All Agency Project.

Every two years, as part of the biennial budget process, the Building Commission recommends a state building program, which includes a list of projects and funding sources to meet the state’s capital improvement and maintenance needs. The All Agency program provides funding to the Building Commission to support repair and renovation projects. UW System is given a funding allocation which they may choose to give to a project that has been submitted to the Division of Facilities Development and Building Commission for approval,” said Pearson.

The remodel includes upgraded equipment, providing the most current audio/visual systems with new lighting as well. Seating will be improved to “facilitate large lecture instruction or special events.” The ceiling and walls will be patched due to crumbling and weak plaster. The cost is estimated at about $1.4 million and is scheduled for completion near June 2014.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Are UW-L Demographics Shifting with Increased Tuition?, by Bryan Hall

          La Crosse may be less diverse than comparable universities, but there does not appear to be a direct link between the lack of assorted demographics and its tuition prices. Marquette and Madison both charge a much higher tuition, but also enjoy a diverse student base. It seems that students of all races and economic backgrounds base their school choice more on factors like academic standing and university size than the price of tuition.
Some wonder if rising costs have phased out different ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender groups from attending UW La Crosse. Looking at the demographic portraits of UW-L, the Flagship University of Wisconsin Madison, and the private Marquette University, the slight comparative lack of diversity at UW-L appears a product of outside factors, and not a result of increased tuition.
The gender breakdown of UW-L students shows 44% men, and 56% women. This varies slightly from Madison’s figure of 51% women and Marquette University at 54% women. UW-L does have a larger discrepancy between the two genders, but there does not appear to be a correlation between these figures and UW-L tuition, which is significantly lower than the Marquette or Madison.
University size and the variety of courses offered can be a factor in attracting students to a school, but students are also evaluating the long term benefits of their degrees. Based on a 20 year figure of the average in field salaries against the cost of a degree by PayScale, La Crosse has an 8.6% return on investment, slightly higher than Madison at 8.2% and significantly higher than Marquette at 5.1% The cost of a degree from UW-L will bring in a wide variety of students looking to get the best long term value from their education.
The difference in demographics is more evident in ethnic benchmarks. 89% of UW-L Students are white, a figure higher than the rates for Madison and Marquette at 76% and 84% respectively. While UW-L is less diverse than these other Midwest schools, this evidence does not support the result. If increased tuition was the source for an exodus of minority students, UW-L would have more students of color than these schools with much higher tuition rates.
The size and geographic location of these schools is a more effective determinant of their diversity. UW Madison and Marquette University are located in much larger cities than La Crosse, and as a result have a much larger minority population. The city of La Crosse had a population of 54,647 as of 2012. This figure is less than 10% of Milwaukee, and just over 20% of Madison. Larger cities will inevitably attract a more wide spread of student backgrounds and ethnicities.
Economic standing will also play a large role in determining the demographics of a university. 23% of UW-L students are considered “low income.” This rate is higher than UW-Madison (16%), which has the lowest acceptance rate of the schools listed. It is, however, much lower than the 40% low income student percentage for Marquette.
 Marquette, as a private institution, is highest for its low income student rates and tuition. But with ther private structure, it is able to offer a variety of scholarships to accommodate students who cannot afford study. UW-L is more affordable but not able to offer the same amount of scholarship opportunities.
Scott Walker has announced that UW tuition will be frozen at its current levels for the next two years. This will allow students to relax about these costs for the next few years after a long period of yearly 5.5% tuition rises. The yearly growth in tuition price has undoubtedly had a negative effect on students, forcing them to rely heavily on student loans and investments from their family. Financing of a college degree has changed drastically over this time; grads from the UW system face an average of $28,012 in student loan debt.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The History of Cuts in State Budget Support - Megan Sukovich

 Investigative Story- 
$15.68 million has been cut from the UW-L budget in the last 13 years, representing the lack of overall state support within the UW system. The over half a billion dollars cut from the UW system budget in 13 years demonstrates a trend that has been occurring over the past 30 years on a national scale.
 State budget decisions cause partisan conflict across the country. “It doesn’t matter, we’ve had legislators and governors from both sides of the aisle. It’s the same in other states. It’s not that they’re mean people, they just have other priorities,” says Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Bob Hetzel about the difference of political priorities.
There are federal mandates that require states to prioritize things such as Medicaid, prison facilities, and infrastructure in their budgets. Once the main concerns are accounted for, states then focus on K-12 education over public universities. Hetzel says, “You can’t charge a prisoner tuition, or a kindergartener, but you can charge a college student the cost of education.”
The budget cuts have impacted the cost of student’s tuition, faculty size, and the overall abilities of the university. Over the past 13 years, UW-L last lost 78 positions, 70 of these positions being faculty. To offset the cuts, UW-L increased students’ tuition by $1,000 per academic year in a 2007 referendum. Since the tuition increase, UW-L hired 165 new faculty and 35 new staff members to increase “growth, availability, and accessibility.” UW-L wants the quality of learning to remain important.
In addition to UW-L, the 25 other state institutions are feeling the effects of the budget cuts.  A few institutions, such as UW-Madison, also increased their tuition to counter the cuts. However, UW-Superior and UW-Parkside are experiencing rapid declines in enrollment declines and are seeking a $1 million loan from the UW system to avoid bankruptcy.
In 2013, Wisconsin Legislature enacted a two-year tuition freeze after the UW system revealed more than $600 million in reserves. On April 11, 2014 Governor Walker proposed freezing the tuition for an additional two years due to projections showing that the UW System still expects more than $1 billion in cash balances in June. Before the freeze, tuition had risen 5.6 percent or more every year for 10 years. Despite the freeze, holding tuition costs is not the solution to the overarching problem. Costs continue to increase in other areas than tuition, such as heating and cooling costs. Hetzel does not foresee a turn around for the UW System educational budget. “It’s a spiral that’s gotten out of control. It’s daunting and it’s to take a long time to recover.”
Tuition increases and total costs go beyond inflation due to the budget cuts on a national scale. In 1973, total cost for a four-year public institution was $2,710. Presently, the average total cost in 2013-14 is $18,391. In addition, the balance between what students pay and what the state covers has drastically shifted. In the 2013 financial year, state support only accounted for about 14% of total costs at UW-L, making student support about 86%.
UW-L alumni Nancy and Scott Bakkum have three children, two currently attending universities and one a recent graduate. “It worries us that our children are paying over 10 times the amount of tuition that we did 25 years ago. The worry of larger debts coupled with less job availability is our biggest fear for them,” says Nancy. Scott Bakkum graduated from UW-L in December of 1982 with debt for a $10,000 loan. The average student loan debt for the class of 2012 was $29,400, according to a report released in April by the Institute for College Access & Success' Project on Student Debt.
The chain reaction between budget cuts and tuition increases is causing most students to rely on loans. The amount students are able to borrow depends on the total costs of the university or college, making a need for greater financial aid. UW-L Professor Thomas Pribek speculates that the trend in budget cuts is being encouraged by the availability of borrowing financial aid. “It’s easier to increase tuition if you can automatically borrow,” says Pribek.

Current UW-L students are conscious of expense of college. Sophomore UW-L student Jared Karis says, “You are paying for a stressful time in your life, but I can’t imagine not going to school.” Students continue to attend college regardless the increasing costs. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68.3% of students who graduated high school in 2011 were enrolled in college.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tuition Is Only Half the Bill for College, by Mikayla Peters

Full-time students at UW-L might pay more than they expect for schooling.  The total cost of schooling, including segregated fees, room and board, enrollment fees, and other fees often doubles the cost of tuition. Few students recognize or look at this when thinking forward to college.

For a full-time student from Wisconsin taking 12-18 credits on campus, the cost per semester is $4,385. Before 2008, the cost per semester was $3,812. This cost includes segregated fees. For each additional credit over 18, Wisconsin students are charged $316.03. The University of Wisconsin system claims on their website that “There is an additional tuition charge of $197.93 per credit for all credits over 18.” 

Fees make a difference, fees such as meal plans, residence halls, segregated fees, enrollment fees, and other fees. The total cost of schooling is not regulated by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents. Fees vary by school. According to the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, the University of Fox Valley costs $5,025 yearly for resident students, the lowest in the UW system. The highest undergraduate tuition is at University of Madison, at $10,403. This means there is a $5,378 difference between the highest and lowest tuitions in the system. These numbers show that little regulation leaves the cost up to the decision of the school. At $8,769, the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse is near the higher end of tuition costs. Tuition may be the only thing students look at when deciding where to go to college. It seems to be the only thing the state focuses on.

State subsidy focuses solely on tuition. After adding in all the other fees required in going to the University of Wisconsin, the state only covers 14.28% of the total cost. That leaves students scrambling to find funding for the other 85.72%.  This often means part- or full-time jobs taken on by full-time students, applications for scholarships, and stress placed upon the students. The stress alone is a cost often not taken into consideration when looking at colleges. Students must find transportation to and from work. This means either taking the bus, getting a ride from a coworker, riding a bike, walking, or bringing a car to campus. Bringing a car to campus means an added cost of a parking pass, which can cost between $194 and $244 per semester. These fees add up over time. Even required fees, such as meal plans, are sometimes overlooked by students.

At UW-L, the meal plans can cost up to $1,225 per term, depending on the plan chosen by the student. 19 meals per week, which means approximately 2 meals per day, plus 5 extra meals, cost $1,225. Cheaper options include 14 meals per week, 2 meals per day, which costs $1,205. For 75 block meals on campus, plus $50 in campus cash, students pay $620. For 50 block meals, students pay $345. All meal plans include $75 in campus cash, excluding block meal plans. In order to eat 3 times a day on campus through their meal plan, students must choose the most expensive option. Students trying to save money may end up going hungry for a while. Also, meals reset at the end of each week, leaving no room to save up meals for a day or week when students know they won’t be able to eat out at all. Those meals aren’t refunded. Students who sign up for too many meals end up paying more for nothing. If a student can’t eat 19 meals a week, they either lose the meals or give them away to friends, family, or classmates.

The residence hall pricing varies depending on the hall and number of roommates. For one semester in a traditional hall double-room, students pay $1,750. For a regular triple room, students pay the same amount, $1,750. For a regular triple in Hutchinson hall, students save about $200 per semester, paying only $1,550 per semester. This is the cheapest option of on-campus housing. Eagle hall has three types of rooms, triple, double, or single. A triple room costs $1,950 per semester. A double room costs $300 more, at $2,250 per semester. A single room costs $425 more than a double room and $725 more than a triple room, at $2,675 per semester. That price is identical to the pricing of a room in Reuter hall. 

The average apartment in Lacrosse costs between $250 and $300 per person per month. For nine months (September through May), the cost can vary between $2,250 and $2,700. After adding in expenses and parking, the cheaper option is living on campus. The cheapest on-campus living is in Hutchinson hall, and the most expensive housing option is either Eagle hall or Reuter hall. The difference in price between the two is $1,125, or almost the cost of the cheaper meal plan. But, meal plans and parking permits are not the only extra fees on campus.

Lacrosse’s segregated fees are $459.13 per semester. Six schools in the UW system have higher segregated fees, including UW-Eau Claire, UW-Madison, UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, and UW-Steven Point. UW-Green Bay has the highest segregated fees, coming up at $657 per semester. UW-Stout has the lowest segregated fees, at only $27.36 per semester. 

Segregated university fees is a phrase used to describe charges in addition to educational or academic fees that are paid by all students. They cover services, programs, and facilities. The fees are used for recreational, cultural, and leisure activities and groups that are not state-funded.

The Segregated University Fee Advisory Committee develops the budget for segregated fees, and the Student Senate approves them. The fees are compulsory. They are not user fees. Rather, they function as a tax on students to improve the quality of the university. Individual students have no control over where the fees go, much like other fees.

The green fund is a $7 required fee for students. It was put into place in 2008. Altogether, the university receives $60,000 per semester from students for projects that improve the environmental impact of the university. These funds do not go towards bikes, bike storage, bike racks, trees, landscaping, plants unrelated to rain gardens or green roofs, or any item put in any other department’s jurisdiction. 

The highest priority of the green fund is that projects be conspicuous and noticeable, that funds are matched through other organizations, and that the energy produced by the university is reduced. Students can create projects to submit to the green fund. The projects are reviewed by a board and chosen based on the priorities listed above. 

On campus at UW-L, students have recently been seeing signs for a new Rec Center. That would add another $14 dollars per semester per student, totaling $120,000 per year for the Rec Center. This is double the green fund on campus. The precedence put on the recreation center says a lot about the campus itself. 

Other fees include enrollment fees, registration fees, service fees, graduation fees, and transaction fees.
There is an enrollment fee of $160 for new students only, which includes orientation, advising, and registration. All new and transfer students taking a placement exam must pay $32 for the placement test. 
Each semester, each student pays $15 in registration fees, $6.50 to career services, and $2 to use D2L. In order to graduate, students must pay $42. 

Also, for any credit or debit card transactions, the university charges 2.75% convenience fee. For insufficient funds, including returned checks, students pay a $20 handling charge in any University of Wisconsin school. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuition Up, Faculty Compensdation Not, by Sam Guinta

            Teachers’ salaries are not being raised proportionally to inflation or to raises in tuition.  According to Bob Hetzel, UW-La Crosse Budget Coordinator, budget cuts in the UW system are at the heart of this problem, and there is no sign of their coming to a halt
            Over the last fifteen years, the UW system has taken a total of $612 million in budget reductions, with UW-La Crosse losing a total of $15.68 million in base reductions and an additional $8.57 million in one time budget reductions.  Higher education has taken a back seat to K through twelve education, correctional facilities, Medicare, Medicaid and transportation.  As a result, the financial burden on students has been steadily increasing even though UW-La Crosse has lost a total of 78 faculty and staff positions in the last fifteen years.  At UWL, students have gone from being responsible for 40% of educational funding in 2002 to almost 70% in 2013.  All while the state has steadily decreased funding for UWL and each of the other 25 state schools in Wisconsin.
            Where do teachers’ salaries factor into all of this budget reduction?  Looking at inflation, teachers At UWL have been denied the amount of compensation compared to rising costs of living.  In the 1974-1975 school year, professors at UWL made an average of $20,051, associate professors made an average of $16,356 and assistant professors made an average of $13,690.   According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjusted for inflation in 2013, a professor should be making an average of $94,750, an associate professor should be making an average of $77,300 and an assistant professor should be making an average of $64,700.  These are not the cases in reality however.  According to the UW System Fact Book from 2012-2013, each of these positions at UWL, respectively, earns $77,051, $61,669 and $58,529, which are, again respectively, 29%, 31% and 10% lower than what inflation would amount to.
            Tuition increase is also an inaccurate reflection of what teachers’ salaries are today.  In 1976, tuition was $544 per semester, each credit costing an average of $34.  In 2013, tuition at UWL was $4384.52 per semester with each credit costing an average of $400.63.  There was an 806% increase in tuition over those thirty-seven years.  Over those same thirty-seven years, a professor’s average salary at UWL went from $21,174 to $77,051, this being a 364% increase.  These two statistics obviously do not match up, but if they did and professors’ salaries increased proportionally to tuition costs, a professor’s average salary would be, on average, $170,650.
            One UWL teacher observed, “people still assume I make over $100,000.  I laugh, but I really should be.”  If teacher salaries rose proportionally to tuition, this would be the case, however with things like Act 10, public educators have to pay for more benefits without proportional compensation.
            Similarly, a UWL sophomore says, “if my tuition is raising but the teachers who are teaching me are not getting paid more, then there might be something more.  I want them to want to teach me well.” 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Student Debt Continues to Rise, by Madison Norris

Seventy-one percent of all undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse will have student debt after graduation. College students across the U.S. are required to pay for most of their education because the state budgets less for higher education year after year.

More students are relying on loans to help pay for their education, causing the student debt to increase significantly. The average student debt of an undergraduate at UWL is $24, 863 according to 2012 data from The Project on Student Loan Debt. Bob Hetzel, Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance at UWL, says that the debt is now closer to $26,000.

In 2012 the average University of Wisconsin- Madison student debt was at $24,700, lower than the UWL student debt; the average University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire was $23,825; and the average National student debt was $29,400 for an undergraduate.

Since 2001 the UW system has received a total $612 million base budget cut. UWL has received a $15.68 million base reduction cut along with an additional $8.67 million in one-time reduction costs over the last 12 years totaling to $24.25 million dollars.

In 2002 the state of Wisconsin paid for 60.03% of UWL students’ tuition costs, leaving students to be charged 39.97% of their academic fees. Last year the state only paid 31.81% of UWL students’ tuition, leaving students to pay for 68.19% of their academic fees. These numbers do not include room and board, for which often students need to take out loans as well.

“I’m shocked at by how much I didn’t know about my debt. The numbers are so large I’m not even sure how to comprehend them. Honestly, it’s scary,” says UW sophomore, Arionna Gunderman.

According to CNN Money, graduate student debt is more than double that of an undergraduate. The national average graduate student debt rose 43% in the last eight years to $57,600.

“I’m going to go to grad school to become a guidance counselor, so it’s not like I will make that much money after graduation. I don’t know how I’m going to pay this off,” says UWL sophomore, Brandon Forcier.

The national student debt has surpassed $1 trillion. Only mortgage debt is higher.

Student debt is becoming an increasingly large issue because federal student loans cannot be refinanced to save money. An individual takes out a student loan at a 6.8% interest rate, the rate they are stuck with no matter if interest rates drop in the future. However, most loans such as mortgages and cars can be refinanced at a lower interest rate.

A federal student loan cannot be discharged by bankruptcy or even death of the student. According to CNN Opinion, social securities are being garnished to pay for a grandchild’s debt because the grandparent co-signed the loan.

The result of not being able to refinance student loans will earn the government $184 billion over the next ten years.

Elizabeth Warner, a Massachusetts senator, has proposed a federal bill to allow students to refinance old student loans at the interest rates offered to new borrowers. If this bill does not pass, students taking out bills prior to July 1, 2014 are locked into the 6.8% interest rate, while students taking out loans after July 1, 2014 will have an interest rate under 4%.

Warren argues the mounting student debt risks future household spending, consumerism and retirement savings. The opposition argues the government cannot afford to refinance federal student loans. Warren’s response to the resistance is the federal government allows for low interest rates all the time. Big banks can borrow money for as low as 1% while students are paying as much as 9 times more.

Hetzel notes that making loans less expensive for students would be easier than lowering the cost of college tuition.

Students that choose a standard student loan repayment plan must make equal monthly payments of at least $50 for up to ten years. The average UWL student with $26,000 in student loans, a 6.8% interest rate, and a standard repayment plan will have to pay $364 a month to pay off their student debt in ten years. This number would decrease if federal student loans could be refinanced at a lower interest rate.

UWL’s It Make$ Cents program offers money management help and education for students. On April 29th the program is hosting a loan repayment event at 6:30 p.m. in Reuter Hall. The program also provides financial advising hours in Reuter Hall from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday evening. Appointments are not necessary during these advising hours. Visit to make a separate appointment or to check out the program’s additional upcoming events.

For information on the different student loan payment plans after graduation and how to protect credit visit