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UW Regents vote to raise tuition by 5.5 percent, new grants help some students

The University of Wisconsin's four-year campuses will raise their tuition by 5.5 percent this fall.

But low- to middle-income students will get enough new grants to avoid the increase, under a budget passed Thursday by the Board of Regents.

The panel approved a $2.2 billion spending package on a voice vote. It also includes an average increase of 5.3 percent for room and board and student fees for things like dorm improvements.

Tuition at the two-year UW colleges will not rise. The idea is to keep the schools affordable, and make the fees competitive with technical colleges.

Also, Madison students will pay an extra $250 as part of a campus effort to improve quality.

La Crosse is charging $500 more to freshmen and sophomores for the same reason.

UW System president Kevin Reilly said the tuition and fee hikes were needed to avoid major cuts in enrollment, or dropping popular programs.

He says students will still feel the pinch through less student services and larger class sizes.

The university's budget has $50 million less in state aid, and like other state employees, all UW personnel will have to take eight days a year of unpaid leave.

That equals a 3 percent pay cut, and Regents' president Chuck Pruitt hoped the UW would not lose good professors to other schools because of it.

The budget does include $5 million for keeping top faculty who get better offers elsewhere.