UW System: A positive investment

Published: October 7, 2018

Commentary by:

Chancellor Ford

Debbie Ford, Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Parkside



Drew Petersen UW Regent

Drew Petersen, Vice President
UW System Board of Regents



Janell Topczewski entered UW-Parkside as the third person in her family to attend the university. Janell’s brother Joseph graduated from UW-Parkside in 2007 and is now a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota. Her brother Jeremy graduated in 2011 and is an art teacher in the Racine Unified School District. Janell also graduated in 2011 and recently joined CNH Industrial Capital as a credit analyst, after serving in various roles with Racine County Economic Development Corporation for seven years.

Even though UW-Parkside is the youngest university in the UW System – celebrating 50 years of serving the region this year – having multiple family members attend is not uncommon.  

UW roots run deep in the Topczewski family. Janell’s father, John, a UWM graduate, and her mother, Janice, established the Topczewski Family Scholarship at UW-Parkside to support students in chemistry, art, and economics. The Topczewski Family Scholarship reflects the family’s appreciation for the experiences and education available at UW-Parkside.

“I’m so grateful to UW-Parkside and the people of the state of Wisconsin for giving me and my family the opportunity to succeed,” Janell said. “A quality education that was accessible and affordable, helped each of us prepare for successful futures.”

Across Wisconsin there are hundreds of thousands of people like Janell and her family, earning good salaries, paying taxes and giving back to their communities – spurred on by the degrees they earned at University of Wisconsin System institutions like UW-Parkside.

With another academic year under way, we want to emphasize that there is no greater value to the state of Wisconsin – to its taxpayers, its students, its businesses and its communities – than the UW System and its graduates. It is Wisconsin’s economic engine.

A new study from NorthStar Analytics found that each year the UW System has a $24-billion impact on the Wisconsin economy, almost 8 percent of the total economy of the state. Moreover, the study found that 167,000 jobs are generated or supported by the UW System each year.

For every dollar state taxpayers invest in the UW System, the System provides a whopping $23 return on investment. Let that sink in. The UW System is not just a great value, it’s a great investment.

For students, UW System institutions provide a quality education at an affordable price. Since fall 2012, tuition has remained flat and the cost of our 13 four-year institutions is below the average of our peer institutions. About two-thirds of all students received some financial aid in 2016-17, including $500 million in grants that do not have to be repaid. Total financial aid awarded that year topped $1.3 billion.

Each year the System confers more than 36,000 degrees. More than 80 percent of those graduates remain in Wisconsin five years after they graduate. UW-Parkside has graduated more students in the past decade than any other 10-year period in its history. Statistics show that on average college graduates earn more than their counterparts who only complete high school, have lower unemployment, pay more in taxes, and are more active in their communities as citizens and volunteers.

College graduates on average are healthier and cost taxpayers less money for health care, public safety, and other taxpayer-funded services.

In addition, more than $1 billion in sponsored research flows into UW System institutions each year. That research helps save and improve lives, spur new businesses and make our communities better places to live.

We know some people are questioning the value of a higher education. But the data is indisputable: An investment in the University of Wisconsin System is an investment in Wisconsin.

Scroll to top
Who Are You?