Current Issues

Tuition and Costs

UW-Madison’s tuition compared with other Big 10 universities
Compared with the university’s peers, UW-Madison’s in-state tuition is less than the average. Excluding UW-Madison, the average in-state tuition rate at Big 10 universities is $11,931. UW-Madison’s 2014-2015 tuition was $10,410 for in-state students, $1,000 less expensive than the Big Ten average. Check out a detailed comparison.

Undergraduate financial aid rates at UW-Madison
In total, 61% of undergraduates received some form of financial aid. Out of the 56% of undergraduates who submitted a financial aid application, roughly 40% received need-based aid. Additionally, 53% of undergraduates received grants and scholarships. These percentages are actually an increase over the last ten years, reflecting the increase of undergraduates with financial need. See page 81 of the 2013 – 2014 Data Digest to learn more about financial aid at UW.

Administrative and facilities costs in UW-Madison’s budget
At UW-Madison, administrative expenses are low and new facility costs are generally covered by donations. Administrative overhead is 3.3% of all operating expenses, the sixth-lowest among the 32 largest public research universities. Facilities Planning and Management, responsible for planning, construction, maintenance and safe operation of all campus buildings, comprised about 8% of UW-Madison’s expenditures. Much of the cost needed to build new facilities, however, is funded through private donations. The $22 million new School of Music, for example, has been funded entirely by a generous donation from the Hamel family. Learn more about UW-Madison’s budget and expenditures on pages 11 and 16 of the Budget Brief.

Faculty salaries at UW-Madison
Compared with other top 12 public universities, UW-Madison’s faculty salaries are much lower than average. UW-Madison employs 2,189 faculty and an additional 2,307 academic staff and 5,379 graduate student assistants. In 2012-2013, the average faculty salary was $118,761, the lowest of the top 12 public universities. Excluding UW-Madison, the peer median was $136,948. In order to reach the median, UW would have to increase faculty salaries by 15.3%. See a more detailed comparison on page 49 of the 2013-2014 Data Digest.

The relationship between UW-Madison’s tuition and state budget support
Although revenues from the state government totaled about 17% of UW’s overall budget in 2014-2015, cuts will have a significant impact on students. Much of the funds from the UW’s other budget sources are earmarked for specific purposes, such as federal research grants or private donations for new facilities. State support and student tuition revenues primarily fund student services and faculty salaries not covered by research grants. Therefore, a cut in state funding and no increase in tuition will have a negative impact on teaching and student services. Learn more about the UW’s changing budget landscape on page 5 of the Budget Brief.

Tuition increases
Generally, tuition increases across the UW System, including UW-Madison, have matched decreases in state aid. State aid and tuition comprise the main sources of funds for student services and teaching. ( Across the United States, cuts in funding from the state have been shown to increase tuition at public universities because cuts shift costs from the state to students. Learn more about the relationship between state aid and tuition increases.

Admissions and Graduation

Admissions rates for Wisconsinites at UW-Madison
For the class of 2014-2015, 71.8% of all Wisconsin residents who applied to UW-Madison were admitted. Although this number is slightly higher than average, the number of Wisconsin students who apply and are admitted is consistently within the 65-70% range. Learn more about this issue.

Admissions standards at Wisconsin
Admitted students typically have high school GPAs between 3.7 and 4.0 and rank in the top 15% of their class along with high standardized test scores. Although UW-Madison expects high academic performance, admissions officers also consider factors such as extracurricular involvement and other personal characteristics. Overall, UW-Madison’s 2013-2014 admissions rate was 47.5% and the admissions rate for Wisconsin students was even higher. Read more.

Wisconsinite Graduation Rates at UW-Madison
For students who entered UW-Madison in fall 2007, the six-year graduation rate was 83.9% for Wisconsin residents and 83.7% overall. Some of the majors offered at Wisconsin, such as engineering, require five years to complete the degree. See page 24 of the 2013-2014 Data Digest for more information.

Wisconsin Residents at UW-Madison
In 2013-2014, out of UW-Madison’s 29,504 undergraduates, 18,443 students (63%) were Wisconsin residents. Another 3,194 students (11%) were from Minnesota as part of reciprocity. A total of 7,867 students were from out-of-state, including international students. Check out more detailed facts on UW-Madison’s 2013-2014 enrollment on page 12 of the 2013-2014 Data Digest.

UW-Madison Tuition Balance (Surplus)

UW-Madison lowers tuition balance by 41%
In response to state legislative directives to reduce fund balances, UW-Madison lowered its tuition balances by 41% from 2013 to 2014, from $143 million in 2013 to $84.5 million 2014. This is well below UW-Madison’s Big Ten peers. Read more.

Using the surplus to reduce the impact of budget cuts
Out of UW-Madison’s total tuition balance of $84.5 million, only $4 million is true reserve. $80.5 million is obligated or planned for expenses the campus will incur in 2014-2015. UW-Madison will be unable to be use the surplus to completely cover budget gaps. Read more.