Minnesota-Wisconsin tuition reciprocity under fire in Madison

There's news out today from St. Paul that Wisconsin owes Minnesota almost $13 million this year as part of the reciprocity deal that allows Wisconsin and Minnesota college students to pay their own in-state tuition in the other state's public universities.

The 43-year-old program is hugely popular, with more than 10,000 students from each state taking advantage of the deal every year. But Wisconsin's broke. And the $13 million is the most Wisconsin has ever owed Minnesota in the history of the deal.

And it probably doesn't help matters that the way things work out these days, Minnesota doesn't owe Wisconsin a penny, because Wisconsin's schools are cheaper.

So maybe it's not surprising that Republican lawmakers in Madison are considering an end to their subsidy, and requiring their students to pay Minnesota tuition if that's where they want to study.

Such a move might go a teensie way toward balancing Wisconsin's budget, ad it might help Wisconsin with in-state tuition aid. But it would would effectively jack tuition costs for Wisconsin students in Minnesota by $1,400 a year -- a 36 percent hike by one estimate.

Of course, those Wisconsin students could always stay home, and take advantage of a public university system that's already about to be gutted by about $250 million. Sounds like a fair deal.

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