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Board Report #00-15

2001-2003 Biennial Budget Issues

 

When reviewing the following points, please keep in mind the 1997-99 Biennial Report which outlines the rationale and policy framework for Wisconsin's Student Financial Aid Structure. Other factors that play a role in our decision making process is the State's fiscal situation and other priorities that may be established. It is my intention to meet with Administration along with the Chairs of the Assembly's Colleges and Universities Committee and the Senate's Education Committee to discuss the State's fiscal future and priorities. I have also begun meeting with individual colleges and universities and expect to meet with student organizations in order to gather input related to concerns or issues that might need to be addressed in the next biennial budget.

1. Funding Requests for All Programs

The 1997-99 and 1999-2001 biennial budgets increased the WHEG and WTG Programs as follows:

These were very substantial increases for both programs particularly when compared to funding increases/decreases that occurred in the last ten years. Prior to 1997, the last substantial increase for both the WHEG and WTG Programs occurred in 1989-91. Total funds available for the academic year 2000-01 under the WHEG and WTG Programs total $53,140,300 compared to $38,134,300 ten years ago. Currently, Wisconsin ranks 12th in the country for providing need based grants like the WHEG and WTG to undergraduates.

Programs other than the WHEG and WTG Programs have experienced sporadic funding increases/decreases in the last ten years. The 1999-01 biennial budget included the following increases in the Talent Incentive Program:

Historically, funding for programs administered by the Higher Educational Aids Board was tied to the cost of education. For example, funding for the Wisconsin Higher Education Grant Program when it was initially created was tied to meeting 33.333% of the cost of education. To meet 33% of the Wisconsin student's cost of education today (excluding the Expected Family Contribution and other available need based assistance) funding for the WHEG and WTG Programs would need to increase by approximately 59% for 2000-01. Most recently, funding requests have been tied to tuition increases. Tuition increases from year to year can range from 5 to 9%.

What should funding requests be tied to? What is the role of state funded higher education financial assistance programs in meeting the need of its residents?

2. Brain Drain and Labor Force Deficit

Recently there has been a great deal of discussion centering on the issues of "brain drain," or "labor force deficits." There is the concern that Wisconsin colleges and universities educate its residents only to see them leave the state once they graduate. There is also the concern that in approximately the year 2015 there will be more 65 year olds leaving the workforce than 18 year olds entering it. The question becomes how can Wisconsin avoid or reverse a brain drain and/or a labor force deficit? How can Wisconsin more highly educate its residents and retain them once they complete their degree? How can Wisconsin recruit nonresidents who want to be educated in Wisconsin AND retain them after they graduate? There is no one solution to either of these challenges.

Following are two possible solutions to reverse these potentially dangerous trends.

  1. Develop a New Scholarship Program or expand an existing Program

    Develop a scholarship program designed for residents of states other than Wisconsin. Scholars would be required to meet a certain level of admission criteria to be eligible to participate. The program would have a repayment component attached for those who do not maintain the required grade point average, complete a degree program, or do not remain in Wisconsin for employment after degree attainment. Develop partnerships with Wisconsin employers to establish internships for scholars to participate in with the potential of the internship leading to permanent employment upon graduation.

    Amount of scholarship would cover up to full tuition at the highest University of Wisconsin System institution. Scholarships could be applied to tuition at any Private Wisconsin College or University, University of Wisconsin, or Wisconsin Technical College.

    The intention of this program is to bring academically strong non-residents to Wisconsin and retain the recipients after graduation from college as income earning Wisconsin residents.

  2. Gather and Distribute names and addresses for Recruiting Purposes

    There has been a concern that Wisconsin's own academically strong high school graduates are increasingly being recruited away from Wisconsin by colleges and universities outside the State. One of Wisconsin's goals by developing the Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship Program was to keep the best and the brightest in the State. Another solution to keep Wisconsin's best would be to gather and distribute to Wisconsin colleges and universities the names and addresses of Wisconsin high school sophomores or freshmen with Grade Point Averages of 3.0 or higher. This would allow Wisconsin colleges and universities more time to recruit these potentially academically strong high school students before other colleges and universities around the country would have the opportunity to. Typically, colleges and universities do not have access to this information until the student's junior or senior year of high school. Currently this information is not being collected by any one agency and therefore a new process and database would need to be established.

    The intention of establishing this new process is to retain the best and the brightest in the State.

Should either of these proposals be pursued? What other solutions are there?

3. Increase Maximum/Awards Academic Excellence Scholarship

Academic Excellence Scholarships are awarded to Wisconsin high school seniors who have the highest grade point average in each public and private high school throughout the State of Wisconsin. The number of scholarships each high school is eligible for is based on total student enrollment. In order to receive a scholarship a student must be enrolled on a full-time basis, by September 30th of the academic year following the academic year in which he or she was designated as a scholar, at a participating University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical College, or Independent institution in the State. The maximum scholarship is currently $2,250. The maximum scholarship for students awarded in 1995-96 and prior was full tuition and fees at a UW campus or Wisconsin Technical College, or an amount equal to the UW - Madison tuition and fees for the students attending independent institutions in Wisconsin. Half of the scholarship is funded by the state, while the other half is matched by the institution.

The intention of this program is to keep the best and the brightest in Wisconsin, as indicated earlier. Most recent data indicates that the program may no longer be fulfilling its purpose due to the $2,250 annual maximum. Data is showing that more students who are designated the recipient of the scholarship are choosing not to stay in Wisconsin and therefore the alternate is accepting the scholarship instead. Some would argue that the alternate may be as academically strong as the designated recipient. Since the majority of AES participants stay in Wisconsin after graduating, consideration should be given to expanding the number of scholarships awarded.

Should the maximum AES be tied to actual tuition (as in the past) rather than be capped and/or should the number of awards be expanded?

4. Increase Maximum Indian Student Assistance Grant

The Indian Student Assistant Grant (ISAG) was established to assist Wisconsin residents who are at least twenty five percent Native American and are undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in degree or certificate programs at a University of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Technical College, an Independent College or University or a Proprietary Institution in Wisconsin. Awards are based on financial need with a limit of ten semesters of eligibility.

Currently the maximum award under this program is $1,100. Prior to 1995-96, the maximum award was $2,200. The award had been split in half in 1995-96 because funding available dropped by 50%.

Since the decrease in the maximum, there has been an increasing amount of Native American students who have been forced to drop out of school due to lack of funding. It appears that, although not all students would be eligible for a maximum of $2,200 under this program, students who have financial need have very high financial need and require the highest maximum grant possible in order to afford to stay in school.

In order to fund an increase in the maximum, the program's appropriation would also need to double. The ISAG Program is funded through Gaming Funds unlike other programs HEAB administers which are funded through General Program Revenue.

Should an increase in the maximum ISAG and its appropriation be pursued?

5. Expand Dental Capitation Program

The Dental Capitation Program provides tuition subsidy for a limited number of Wisconsin residents who attend Marquette University's School of Dentistry. The program was originally established to educate and keep Wisconsin dentists. The number of participants in the program for 2000-01 is 100. Each receives $11,670. It has been suggested by public health associations that there is an increasing need to provide dental care to rural areas and medicaid clients; and to increase the number of dentists in Wisconsin. Data from the School of Dentistry indicates that the current capitation program has been successful in retaining Wisconsin dentists and is in the process of collecting information related to dental care provided to rural areas and medicaid clients by its Wisconsin graduates.

Should the already successful capitation program be expanded in order to increase the number of Wisconsin dentists? Should another program also be developed to address the needs of Wisconsin's rural residents and medicaid clients?

6. Consolidate Postsecondary Financial Aid Programs under HEAB

The majority of Higher Education State Student Financial Aid Programs are administered by the Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board. However, there are a number of programs that are currently administered by other agencies or systems. Having all programs administered by one agency eliminates confusion by students and their families who expect to deal with one agency when questions related to state assistance arise. Consolidation would also eliminate duplication of effort e.g. the screening of students for delinquent child support payments. In the future student records may need to be screened for participation in the EDVEST Program or for selective service registration. Duplicating these efforts are error prone and require additional resources.

Should Postsecondary Financial Aid Programs be consolidated under HEAB?

Other Issues

Addendum

 

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