More big tuition troubles for the University of Wisconsin

CREATED Apr 23, 2013

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MADISON - More big tuition troubles for the University of Wisconsin System today.

Lawmakers are outraged that the system has a $648 million surplus. And students and parents aren't too happy either.

Most of that outrage has to due with the university stashing more than $400 million in cash in a tuition reserve fund while asking students to pay higher and higher tuition fees.

"Your actions to create this billion dollar slush fund by having huge tuition increases are shameful," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

He is one of many Republican lawmakers who are not happy.

"How can you justify raising tuition at the same time you are squirreling away tuition," asked Republican State Senator Alberta Darling.

They accused U-W System's President Kevin Reilly of hiding surplus money from taxpayers.

"Who's running the university," asked Senate President Mike Ellis.

The veteran Senator asked Reilly about who knew what, when and if the board of regents was doing its job of watching out for the taxpayer.

"So far Mr. Reilly I'm getting the opinion that the board of regents are placeholders. They are supposed to represent the taxpayers of this state and you work for them!" said Ellis.

"Absolutely," said U-W President Kevin Reilly.

Reilly says the board was aware of the surplus money and that it is very much needed as a safety net but admitted they didn't do a good job of communicating.

"Let me go back to the who knew what when questions. I think we could have and should have been more transparent about this," said Reilly.

"Despite having lots of money in a tuition reserved fund the university system is thinking about raising tuition another 2% in each of the next two years.

"There should be no need for that," said UWM student Ashley Giese. "I should not have to go into more debt as a result of them just being greedy."

Republican lawmakers are talking about a tuition freeze and blocking any additional state aid.

The university says the reserve fund is not out of line with other universities its size.