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Students at technical colleges throughout the state could get a break from tuition increases under Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget.

Technical colleges could see tuition freeze

Students at technical colleges throughout the state could get a break from tuition increases under Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget.

A technical college student on average pays around $4,500 a year, which students say is getting harder to pay.

"It's a little bit challenging because I do not qualify for financial aid, so it has to come out of my pocket," Madison Technical College student Alfonzo Benitez said. "I think it would go a long way especially for other students who may have a hard time paying their tuition, not everyone qualifies for financial aid."

Under the governor's proposal, technical colleges statewide would see a freeze in tuition for the next two years.

Dirk Last, a student at Madison Technical College, is finding it hard to pay for college while working a full-time job and taking a full course load.

"I'm already struggling to pay for college as it is, not having it increase would be extremely ideal," Last said.

While you will probably not find a student who wants to pay more money for school, there are varying opinions on the governor's proposal.

"It's way too late. It should've been stopped a long time ago. The students are the ones that are presenting the future for everyone, and we are getting hit the hardest," Wendy Shaver said.

While Shaver thinks the freeze will not help students who she said are already paying too much in tuition, others welcome the possibility.

"If I didn't have to see a tuition increase in the next year, it (the tuition freeze) would be right on time," Rose McBlackwell said.

To make up for the loss in revenue, the governor would budget $5 million in the second school year and an additional $5 million to go toward grant funding programs for high school students, which would be developed by technical colleges.

"I think it's a good middle ground. I know a lot of people want free college, but then we would have to increase taxes and I think this is a good middle ground," Benitez said.

The Wisconsin Technical College System said it is still analyzing the details of the budget.

"Affordability is always top-of-mind for our board, the system president and college leaders and the board incorporates input from students when setting tuition. It's worth noting that the board has approved the lowest increase in the system's history in each of the past three years, including a 1.5 percent increase for this year, or about $120 for the vast majority of full-time tech college students. We're continuing to analyze the many details of the governor's full budget proposal, which has an education focus and we're glad to say includes new funding for need-based financial aid for our students," said Conor Smyth, WTCS spokesperson.

The system would not comment on the impact this would have on colleges or if the money would be enough to cover the loss in revenue from the freeze.

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