UW System offers to pay for college courses in high school
MADISON, Wis. — The UW System says it will use some of it’s reserve funds to pay for college courses for high school students.
The offer, the System President says, is the result of unintended consequences of a new state law.
In the state budget passed last summer, the legislature created a new program called “Course Options” to encourage students to take college classes in high school. But in doing so, they shifted the cost of those courses from the students to school districts.
Schools like Middleton High School work with UW-Oshkosh to have college courses taught in the high schools that count for both high school and college credit. Parents pay some $500-600 per class and Middleton offers nearly a thousand classes a year, meaning their costs could dramatically increase under the new plan.
“In our case you would take that $500-600 and multiply it by a thousand course options next year, sot hats a lot,” said Middleton-Cross Plains Communications Director Perry Hibner.
The UW System announced Thursday they’ll cover the costs for a year while they work with the legislature to modify the program.
“This is a really good thing,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “We have to find a way to price it right and I think that there are some unexpected consequences with the legislation that prompted us to do this.”
Cross says the cost will come from UW System reserves, and could amount to a million dollars or more. But he says he is committed to making sure the program continues so more families who currently couldn’t afford to pay for the programs will have access.
“We cannot let this program die, we do it right,” said Cross. “We talk to the Governor’s office, we talk to legislators, we talk to DPI to find a way to make it work. We just couldn’t within the existing law.”
Middleton says the decison by the UW System is great news for them, but they want to know what may happen in the future.
In the meantime students can still take UW courses on UW campuses under the “Youth Options” program for dual credit as well, but school districts will still be required to pay for those.