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Opening doors to higher education

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June 24, 2014 | 12:13 PM
The benefits of education after high school are numerous.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, increased educational achievement is directly correlated to higher earnings and a lower likelihood of unemployment.

I have supported several initiatives undertaken during the most recent legislative session to help make the cost of higher education more flexible, accessible and affordable.

Earlier this month, the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System signed the Universal Transfer Agreement, which allows students to transfer up to 48 core general education credits between the two systems starting on July 1, 2014.

This historic agreement will allow students to continue on their degree path instead of being forced to retake classes that did not transfer between the institutions.

It also lowers costs by allowing students to start at a technical college, where tuition costs are lower, and finish their bachelor’s degree at a four-year university.

The UW Flex Option is a new, innovative program through the UW-System and UW-Extension.

It allows for a more personalized and convenient way for adults and non-traditional students to earn a degree while balancing other aspects of a busy life.

The Flex Option focuses on what a person knows, not the time they spent learning.

This unique focus allows progress to be made on a degree by using what is already known from work experience, military training, previous coursework and other training experiences.

In this program, participants draw on their knowledge to pass assessments at a pace based on what works best for them.

Additionally, for the first time in the history of the UW-System, a two-year tuition freeze was enacted.

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This was accomplished during the 2013-2015 state budget, and it is very likely that another tuition freeze will be considered in the 2015-2017 state budget.

Tuition freezes provide needed predictability and affordability for students and their families.

I will continue to support initiatives that increase the flexibility, accessibility and affordability of higher education in Wisconsin.

Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) represents eastern Rock and western Walworth counties in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

She can be reached at rep.loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov and (608) 266-9967.

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More information about the Universal Transfer Agreement can be found at www.tis.uwsa.edu.

More information about the UW Flex Option can be found at www.flex.wisconsin.edu.

To view the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics graphic on Earnings and Unemployment Rate by Educational Attainment go to http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm.

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