Cross-border tuition deal changing

WINONA, Minn. — Each year, thousands of Wisconsin students head over the border to go to Minnesota universities. Right now, they pay less in tuition than Minnesota residents. But that will soon change.

The tuition reciprocity deal between the two states allows students to pay in-state tuition even if they choose to go to college across the border.

Minnesota tuition is more expensive, and in the past the state of Wisconsin has reimbursed Minnesota to cover the difference. But under the change approved yesterday, students will soon have to cover the cost out of their own pockets.

Many Wisconsin freshmen moving into Winona State feel like they’ve dodged a bullet. Starting in fall 2012, new students from Wisconsin will have to pay the same tuition as students from Minnesota– not the reduced rate Wisconsin residents are getting now as part of the reciprocity agreement.

With the increased tuition, the V.P. of Student Life at Winona State Connie Gores says the university will look into ways to work with future students to help offset the new cost.

“We want everybody to have the opportunity to be here. If they’ve been admitted to Winona State, we want them to be a student. And we don’t want an additional increase to stand in their way,” said Gores.

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But Director of Student Financial Services at WSU David Thorn doesn’t think the change will have much of an impact on where Wisconsin students decide to go to school.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a substantial difference because in fact the dollars are not substantial on an individual basis. It’s a couple hundred dollars more for a Wisconsin student but it’s not thousands of dollars more. It’s not out-of-state tuition. It’s Minnesota in-state tuition,” said Thorn.

Nearly 3,000 students will be moving into Winona State over the next few days. 25 percent of them will be from Wisconsin. But not all of the Wisconsin students moving in today are worry-free. They can only count on their lower tuition if they graduate within four years. And that has some families worried.

“I’m worried about putting pressure on her to graduate in four years and what’s going to happen if she doesn’t…. You plan out what you’re going to pay for your child’s college tuition. And now, I don’t know,” said Wisconsin Todd Berge while moving his daughter into her new dorm.

We don’t know how much more Wisconsin students entering Minnesota universities in 2012 will have to pay as a result of the new changes. That’s going to depend on the price tag of the college they choose. At Winona State this year, students from Minnesota pay about $230 more than students from Wisconsin.