Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green is using paid actors in one of his campaign ads to drive home discontent over University of Wisconsin tuition and wait-list policies.
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In the TV ad, two couples are talking with Green and his wife about how their kids are being shut out of the admission from one of the UW System schools. In reality, the couples are paid actors portraying what Green sees as a fundamental problem with higher education.
The ad goes on to make two claims about how the UW is managed and blames incumbent Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.
First, one of the paid actors said: "They're letting out-of-state kids in who have worse grades than the Wisconsin kids who don't get in."
WISC-TV finds this claim "misleading."
Green cites test scores and class ranking showing Wisconsin students out-perform non-residents.
A comparison of entrance exams showed the scores are almost identical. In fact, this year, non-residents fared better in ACT and SAT scores.
On class rankings, Wisconsin students are rated higher. Green is correct about that. But, he fails to mention that there's a trend nationally not to rank students against each other anymore, so only half of non-residents are even compared this way. Also, that ranking doesn't take into account differences in curriculum between states, which is a factor used by admission officials.
UW leaders also noted that residents and non-residents don't directly compete against each other because they are evaluated in separate pools.
Later in the ad, Green tries to tie Doyle to rising in-state tuition and falling out-of-state tuition. In the ad, he said, "It gets worse. Jim Doyle raised tuition for Wisconsin families and actually cut it for out-of-staters."
WISC-TV finds this claim needs clarification.
First, Doyle doesn't set tuition rates directly -- the UW Board of Regents has that authority. But, a governor can have an impact indirectly by appointing some of the board members. The governor can also influence tuition rates by raising or lowering the amount of state aid going to the UW.
Green is correct in saying that tuition has gone up under Doyle's watch.
At UW-Madison, tuition is up about $1,500 -- or 32 percent. At other four-year universities, tuition has increased 31 percent.
As for non-residents going to the UW-Madison, tuition is up as well, contrary to what Green says in the ad. Currently, it costs $20,000 a year for non-residents to attend UW-Madison.
The cut Green is referencing is at the other four-year colleges in the UW System. The cut was put in place this year by the Board of Regents because fewer students were willing to pay the higher tuition figure and non-resident enrollments dropped.
UW admissions officials also noted that each non-resident, in part, subsidizes the cost of in-state tuition. So, if there are fewer non-residents, the in-state cost would have to be increased to make up the difference. The board cited that as one reason why it decided to make the tuition cut.