Madison college and the University of Wisconsin entered into a landmark agreement Thursday morning during a banquet event at the Madison College Truax Campus that expands the Scholars of Promise program to some students who earn their Associate Degree at Madison College to receive their baccalaureate degree from UW-Madison without paying tuition or fees.
Many of the first cohort of Scholars of Promise students, who began classes in the Fall of 2017, were present at the luncheon and have expressed their intent to transfer to Wisconsin after they receive their Associate Degree in Spring 2019.
Chaya Miller is one of the first Scholars of Promise recipients. Miller is a West High graduate who completed a Learning to Learn course that enables students to know important resources around campus, have one-on-one time with mentors, and use resources like the writing center. She finished her first semester with a 3.25 GPA.
Miller said she wasn’t great at school and was providing for herself on her own. She didn’t think she could go to college or afford an institution like Wisconsin. But because of Scholars of Promise, she will be able to pursue a four-year degree and pursue a career in nursing.
“This is going to help students just like me who didn’t think their dream was possible,” she said. “This program means a lot to me. I wouldn’t have had any other opportunity like this to move forward in my education and I’m really taking advantage of it.”
Miller is one of 150 students who are members of the first Scholars of Promise class, and Madison College President Jack Daniels says that at least 141 of those 150 students are still in the program and planning to transfer.
President Daniels, speaking before the luncheon, called the agreement with Wisconsin a game changer.
“Many who never thought they would be able to attain a baccalaureate degree because of finances can now achieve that goal,” he said. “This is how we grow our workforce. This is how we improve the quality of life in our communities. This is how we live out our mission of providing access to higher education to all. Many of these individuals will represent underrepresented and disenfranchised populations. The opportunity that we have offered is a pathway not only to academic success but a new way of life.”
University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank said that UW-Madison will extend on-campus privileges to all the Scholars of Promise recipients so that all of the qualifying students know they can utilize the full breadth of Wisconsin’s resources.
“We want to send a really easy message to remember,” Chancellor Blank said. “All Scholars of Promise students, even those who don’t qualify for Badger Promise or Bucky’s Tuition, will receive the same deal. We will promise you enough financial aid to cover four semesters of tuition and fees so you can complete your four-year degree at UW. We want you to come. I know you will enrich our campus in so many ways.”
Bucky’s Tuition Promise is a program for financial aid based on students whose household gross income is less than $56,000. Badger Promise provides affordability aimed at first-generation students.
Chancellor Blank said that finances are among the greatest barriers students face but that Wisconsin will partner with Madison College to offer workshops on things like the transfer process, financial wellness, advising and other areas.
Daniels said that the students who have entered the Scholars of Promise program represent the best that Madison College has to offer.
“These determined students have proven to be hardworking, resourceful and persistent. These individuals committed themselves to the goal of an Associate’s Degree. Though financially disadvantaged, these individuals can now pursue the dream of a college degree and the career of their choice.”
Anyone interested in more information about the Scholars of Promise program can call the Scholars of Promise office at 608-246-6036.