Online Degrees in Wisconsin
According to the Wisconsin Scholars Longitudinal Study (WSLS), the Badger State has traditionally been considered a "low tuition" state when it comes to higher education. However, on the heels of the Great Recession and ongoing budget difficulties, tuition rates have been on the rise. In 2008, the National Report Card on Higher Education gave Wisconsin an "F" for affordability, and in 2011-2012, tuition at the University of Wisconsin schools increased 5.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the state expects degrees will become increasingly vital to its workforce. The Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) reports that 61 percent of Wisconsin jobs are expected to require post-secondary education by 2018. To address the problem of affordability as well as help residents prepare for future job growth, state leaders are looking for ways to boost funding and connect students with resources.
Like other states, Wisconsin made cuts to its higher education budget in 2011. Funding for the state university system was cut by $250 million for the 2011-2013 budget cycle, according to the state. In addition, while tuition increases of 5.5 percent were approved for public university students, funding for financial aid programs was kept flat. Meanwhile, technical colleges saw a 30 percent reduction in their base appropriations.
Although the numbers may seem discouraging, a recent special committee convened by the Wisconsin Legislature seeks to stretch those financial aid dollars farther. The Special Committee on Review of Higher Education Financial Aid Programs issued its recommendations on February 18, 2011. The committee's recommendations covered both policy and administrative changes:
- Change reciprocity agreements between Wisconsin and Minnesota to require students pay the higher of either the in-state tuition in their home state or the in-state tuition at their school
- Eliminate the requirement that talent incentive program grant recipients attend school continuously to maintain their eligibility
- Require that appropriations for certain grant programs increase at the same rate as the average increase in fees and tuition
- Create a Commission on Financial Aid Consolidation and Modernization
In addition to state initiatives to improve access and affordability to higher education, Wisconsin also participates in the federal College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) Program. Great Lakes, a third-party administrator for the grant program, reports Wisconsin currently has $2.45 million available to fund the program for the year ending in August 2011.
While CACG does not provide direct financial aid to Wisconsin students, it does work to promote awareness of funding opportunities. WISCAPE reports that low-income and minority parents often overestimate the cost of attending college. In addition, those who are most likely to be eligible for financial aid are less likely to know about their options.
CACG addresses these concerns by offering one-on-one counseling services and other programs designed to increase awareness. Workshops funded by the program focus on exploring college majors, navigating the application process and applying for financial aid. In 2009-2010, nearly 12,500 individuals attended CACG workshops. Another 3,500 took advantage of one-on-one advising opportunities, and more than 4,000 participated in CACG test prep services.
Currently, Wisconsin online degrees are available through a number of private and public schools. For example, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System offers an ecampus which facilitates online degree programs for the two- and four-year schools within the system. Students through both UW and other schools have access to a range of programs from online certificates to doctoral degrees.
As Wisconsin continues to look for ways to improve both its educational and economic climate, some leaders are stressing that online degree programs should not be overlooked. The Wisconsin Prosperity Strategy, created by business, academic and community leaders during the 2010 Wisconsin Economic Summit Series, encourages the use of online learning. To increase the number of four-year degree holders in the state, the strategy's 2010 Be Bold report urges an increase in online and distance learning opportunities to allow those who are employed or place-bound to complete their education.
Although the state continues to grapple with relatively high unemployment--7.4 percent as of May 2011 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)--residents have reason to be optimistic. For the first quarter of 2011, Wisconsin was in the top quintile when it came to increases in personal income. The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) found that income had grown 2.1 percent, making it ninth in the nation for growth during the quarter. According to BLS data, the mean annual income in the state was $40,980 in 2010.
During the first quarter of 2011, the BEA also found that income was growing fastest for those working in management, health care and social assistance fields. However, those employed in real estate and federal government positions actually saw their incomes decrease. Those statistics correspond with data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. According to that agency, the following jobs are the fastest growing in the state:
- Home health aides
- Network and data communications analysts
- Personal and home care aides
- Financial examiners
- Ambulance drivers/attendants
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that by 2018, nearly 2 million jobs in Wisconsin will require some kind of post-secondary education, compared to only about half that number for high school graduates. Wisconsin online schools offer the flexibility needed to prepare state residents for tomorrow's jobs.
Online Degree Programs in WisconsinThis list also contains online schools that accept students from Wisconsin.
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