GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — The cost of college can be a barrier for some students looking to further their education. It's a challenge the University of Wisconsin System hopes to help with.
Jay Rothman, UW System president, discussed what's called the Wisconsin Tuition Promise during a media briefing Wednesday at UW-Green Bay. The initiative, which is set to launch in fall 2023, will help some under served Wisconsin students attend any University of Wisconsin school without paying tuition or fees.
"It's going to be big," said Andrew Leavitt, UW Oshkosh Chancellor. "It's going to leave no doubt in the minds of many families that college is affordable and that they have a pathway financially in order to achieve it."
The program would give up to four years of funding for students whose families earn less than $62,000 annually and attend one of the 12 UW System universities other than UW-Madison, which already has a similar initiative. Tuition Promise funds will act as a supplement after federal and state aid, as well as scholarships.
"I think it's huge," said Heather Hagedorn, an incoming UW-Oshkosh senior.
Although Hagedorn will have graduated by the time the program begins, she said Tuition Promise will help turn dreams into reality for many students.
"It's an amazing opportunity to kind of take the stress of paying for college and then eventually paying off your loans," Hagedorn said. "It takes that kind of stress away from getting to decide what you want to do."
UW officials believe the program will support 8,000 future students over the next four years.
"At UW-Green Bay, 50% of our undergraduate students are first-generation students in college," said Michael Alexander, UW-Green Bay Chancellor. "We know we'd even have more of those students if we had a program like this. To be able to make sure all students that have socioeconomic challenges or low socioeconomic backgrounds, if they're able to have those costs cover for them, we know that they'll want to invest in themselves to continue their education."
The UW System will fund the first year of the program, which will cost $13.8 million. They hope the state will take over from there.
Other eligibility requirements include:
- Need to be a Wisconsin resident
- Seeking a first-time bachelor or associate degree
- Must file a FAFSA each year
- Fall and spring enrollment only
- Must have been employed at some point during the preceding year.