University of Wisconsin System President Jay Rothman on Monday announced the creation of the Wisconsin Tuition Promise, a new initiative starting in fall 2023 to ensure underserved Wisconsin students can attend any UW System university without paying tuition or fees, according to a press release from UW System.
The program is a system-wide expansion of Bucky’s Tuition Promise, a program introduced in 2018 to assist students with tuition to attend UW-Madison. A UW announcement said the program helped 961 students in 2021.
The Wisconsin Tuition Promise would provide up to four years of tuition and fee funding for students coming from families earning less than $62,000 annually and enrolling at any of the other 12 public universities within the UW System. The program would be structured to provide “last dollar” financial support after federal and state grant aid is accounted for; as a result, Tuition Promise awards will vary.
Eligible students will be Wisconsin residents, first-time enrollees or transfers, and attending full-time. They will need to make sufficient academic progress each year and attest that they were employed at some point during the previous year.
The release said the goal of the program is to increase the number of state residents who graduate with a bachelor’s degree – especially first-generation students and those from low-to-moderate income families throughout Wisconsin – “thereby improving individual lives and communities and helping meet the state’s workforce needs.”
“The benefits of a college education are unassailable,” Rothman said in a statement. “A college degree needs to be within reach for every Wisconsin citizen as a path to a better life, and the Wisconsin Tuition Promise will provide these opportunities. It is also how we can close the skills gap that now limits Wisconsin’s potential to thrive in a global economy.”
Rothman said an estimated 8,000 students will be supported through the program once it is fully implemented over four years. Eligible students will be awarded an average of $4,500 over four years to supplement other state and federal aid. The UW System intends to fund the first year of the program in academic year 2023-24 at $13.8 million and seek state investment for subsequent years.
Students will be automatically considered for the Wisconsin Tuition Promise when they apply for federal financial aid, the release said. A full publicity campaign led by the universities will begin later this fall. Current information can be found at the Tuition Promise website.