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University of Wisconsin-Madison to offer free tuition to low-income families

Bascom Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Source: Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Low- to moderate-income families will now have access to free tuition at one of the best universities in Wisconsin and the whole of the United States.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has announced it will grant free tuition and no fees for eight semesters (four years) for students from Wisconsin whose families earn less than US$56,000 a year – roughly median income in the state.

Transfer students will get two years of tuition and segregated fees.

Announced at a University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents meeting last week, the scheme has been dubbed “Bucky’s Tuition Promise” and launches in in the fall semester of 2018.

“Many low- and middle-income families in Wisconsin are simply uncertain whether they can afford to send their child to UW–Madison,” said Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is admitted can afford to be a Badger.”

It is expected to cost the university US$820,000 per year on top of existing financial aid arrangements.

University of Wisconsin Badger Football Fans. Source: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

By the time four classes worth of students have gone through Bucky’s Tuition Promise, the UW-Madison will be spending US$3.3 million per year on the pledge – money it aims to raise via the All Ways Forward campaign.

“The idea here is to simplify financial aid messages to people around the state,” said Blank, as quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal. The university wants to combat a perception that high-quality education is unaffordable, she said.

UW-Madison has a student body of 40,000 and is ranked 43rd in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.

UW–Madison Office of Student Financial Aid director Derek Kindle said:

“Bucky’s Tuition Promise will provide parents with clarity around cost much earlier in the college-selection process,”

“For the first time ever, we are saying to these Wisconsin families, in the clearest and most concise way possible, that if your student applies here and is accepted, we will cover the cost of tuition and fees — plain and simple.”

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