Feb. 9 (UPI) — The University of Wisconsin-Madison unveiled plans Friday to waive four years of college tuition and fees for incoming lower-middle-class freshmen.
The program, called “Bucky’s Tuition Promise,” will cover students whose family income is no greater than $56,000, roughly the average household income in Wisconsin, the university said in a news release. Transfer students who qualify will also receive two years of free tuition and fees.
“Many low- and middle-income families in Wisconsin are simply uncertain whether they can afford to send their child to UW-Madison,” UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is admitted can afford to be a Badger.”
UW-Madison said there are no other requirements for the full-tuition coverage and added that students are automatically eligible for the award after they apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.
“We know there’s a perception that UW-Madison is financially out of reach for some of our Wisconsin families, and we know this keeps some high school students in our state from applying here,” Blank said. “We don’t want this to be the case any longer. Going forward, we are removing the cost of tuition as a barrier for these families.”
The tuition pledge, which is expected to cost the university $3.3 million each year, is expected to cover more than 800 students in each new incoming class of freshmen and transfer students. The school had a total of nearly 44,000 students enrolled last fall.
The university’s announcement comes after several states announced they would offer free tuition or extra scholarships for college students.
In Florida, students who have earned the top Bright Futures scholarship award are now guaranteed free tuition and fees at the state’s public institutions.
Students in Georgia who major in one of 12 high-demand fields — including computer programming, computer technology and diesel equipment technology — can receive up to $500 towards college tuition per term.
In 2017, New York became the first state to waive tuition for middle-class students whose families earn less than $100,000 a year, with a goal of raising the income cap to $125,000 a year by 2019.