University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering


What is differential tuition?
Differential tuition is tuition undergraduate engineering students pay in addition to their regular UW-Madison tuition. Unlike general tuition, which is distributed throughout the university, differential tuition for engineers stays within the College of Engineering to directly benefit students' educational experience.

How can I afford to pay more for college?
Through philanthropic gifts made by alumni and corporate partners, the college can offer need-based financial aid so that differential tuition does not deprive an engineering student of the opportunity to pursue a premier engineering education.

Why do I pay differential tuition? What does it do?
Essentially, differential tuition enables the college to do what it does now, only better! We have opened thousands of additional seats in high-demand core courses. Our departments have upgraded several undergraduate laboratories and purchased high-end equipment. We have increased undergraduate enrollment so that we can offer a world-class engineering education to a greater number of top students. We have increased technology use in our courses. We have expanded student services support for engineering students. And more!

Who decides how differential tuition money is used?
Two committees guide the use of differential tuition funding. The Differential Tuition Advisory Committee consists of two students, two staff members and two faculty members, while the Polygon Student Differential Tuition Advisory Committee consists of four students. Each of these committees reviews proposals for allocating differential tuition funding and provides recommendations to the college dean. The Polygon committee also communicates student needs and concerns to the college dean.

How can I get involved?
For starters, attend a Polygon Engineering Student Council meeting! Polygon works with all engineering undergrads though weekly general meetings and aims to establish a strong connection among students, faculty, staff, administration and the Madison community through a variety of events and initiatives.

Students studying

Engineering differential tuition: Making a difference for you

With the support of the Wisconsin Engineering Student Council, the UW Board of Regents approved differential tuition for engineering students in 2008—and Polygon passed a motion reaffirmming that need in February 2011.

Since 2008, the College of Engineering—with input from engineering students—has invested differential tuition in four key areas: educational innovation (for example, increasing technology use in class), instruction (for example, expanding or opening new sections in high-demand courses), hands-on activities (for example, at the department level, upgrading labs used by undergraduates), and student services (for example, undergraduate academic advising and the Student Leadership Center).

Unlike "regular" UW-Madison tuition, differential tuition dollars "follow" engineering students into the College of Engineering, where we put those funds to work to directly benefit you. Here are more examples of how that happens.

Video playlist:
UW-Madison engineering students benefit from differential tuition
How the Student Leadership Center benefits engineering undergrads
Differential tuition for UW-Madison engineering undergrads opens space in high-demand courses
What a UW-Madison engineering education means for your future


Throughout the College of Engineering, instructors are migrating core courses into "blended" courses that incorporate technology to enhance students' educational experiences and make better use of students' and instructors' in-class time.


The Student Shop has improved training processes, purchased a variety of new equipment, and increased access to shop services in general. Learn more.

In ECE 270 and ECE 271, the circuits lab courses, Associate Faculty Associate Mark Allie's students have moved from a traditional lab bench to Mobile Studio, a portable lab kit that, with a laptop, can simulate all the experiments they need to learn about current, voltage and frequency. Learn more.

Documents from the history of differential tuition

2009-2010 Polygon dfferential tuition update

Undergraduate student "wants" concerning their academic experience in the UW-Madison College of Engineering

College of Engineering call for differential tuition proposals
College of Engineering proposes differential tuition for undergraduates