UW-Eau Claire program can’t avoid sequester cuts - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW-Eau Claire program can’t avoid sequester cuts

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Over the years, tuition has increased, state budgets have been cut, and now, the cost of a college education will go up for another reason; the automatic federal spending cuts.

Those cutbacks, which started taking effect on March 1st, will impact college students across the country.  Financial aid will be cut.  In Eau Claire, the university has a choice to make: cutting aid or hours for classroom staff.

"The sequester tends to attack the wrong target," says Dr. Bruce Ouderkirk with UW-Eau Claire's Student Support Services.

The bickering in Washington tends to overshadow what they're actually arguing about, the details, and we're learning how those details will impact college campuses.

More than 500 students at UW-Eau Claire taking part in the university's Trio program are going to feel an impact because of sequester cuts.

"It is an across-the-board cut for all discretionary domestic programs, regardless of how effective they've been at achieving their objectives and regardless if they've provided a good return on their investment," Ouderkirk explains.

The Trio program gives financial support to students who otherwise might not be able to go to college; including students with disabilities, families with a limited income, and first-generational college students.

"I come from a low-income family, and having a financial burden on you affects you more than you can believe," points out UW-Eau Claire Sophomore Darrell Hill.  "So having that lifted allowed me to focus solely on my school work."

The program provides an average of $2,000 of aid per student.  The $1.1 million budget will now be cut by five percent.

"Our programs are designed to provide a lot of individualized assistance for students and when we do have to make budget cuts that reduce staff time, then it makes it more difficult for us to provide that one-on-one help that students really benefit from," relents Ouderkirk.

And less time from teachers means less time for students

"People say a lot that what I'm learning in college isn't going to help me at all, but we are doing real life things," Hill says.  "We are working on our resumes.  We are doing interviewing etiquette; just learning how to be successful in the real world."

The university says about 15 faculty members work with the Trio program and UW-Eau Claire doesn't want to let any of them go and doesn't want to cut financial aid.  So classroom hours could be reduced to make up for the lost funding.

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