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Illinois natives enrolling at UW Platteville in increasing numbers

While Illinois colleges and universities continue to deal with the state's budget mess, some out-of-state schools may be reaping the benefits.

At the University of Wisconsin - Platteville, an increasing number of Illinois natives have enrolled over the past decade.

Freshman Jenna Fisher calls Rock Island, Illinois, home, but says the decision to come to UW Platteville was easy.

"I kinda like smaller schools, especially since going to Alleman," said Fisher. "I liked Platteville because, if I really wanted to, I could put a fence around the whole entire campus, and I can walk to all my classes."

Over the past five years, the number of UW Platteville students from Illinois and Iowa has increased by more than 21 percent, with Illinois natives making up nearly 16 percent of today's student body. While Illinois' budget woes have created a crisis for many state schools, Wisconsin appears to be capitalizing.

"I think what makes UW Platteville a different breed from some of the other schools is we've been taking advantage of this for a long time. We've been inviting our Illinois students to come up here, and we've had tremendous success," said Paul Erickson, public information officer for UW Platteville.

Through a program called the Tri-State Initiative, tuition at UW Platteville for Illinois and Iowa students costs about $12, 184. At Illinois State University, the average in-state tuition still costs $13,660, and at the University of Illinois, tuition for Illinois residents can range from $15,700 to $20,700.

"My parents make us do charts when we're trying to figure out which college to go to, and there were a lot of great Illinois schools on that chart, but for me, it was just... the price was too hard to beat," said Kasey Fisher.

Kasey is Jenna's older sister, who also attended UW Platteville. Now, she works full-time as a hall director on campus.

"I love Illinois, it's where we lived all our life, but it still feels like home here. It very quickly became my second home," said Kasey.

Platteville is located less than 30 minutes from both the Iowa and Illinois borders.