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UW Changes Lives: Opening doors for transfer students

March 22, 2019
A photo of three college students holding their hands in the shape of a "W" for Wisconsin.

Transfer students Maria Venegas (right) and Mina Stumpfoll (middle) met at a STEM event and soon bonded.

From February through June, we will be highlighting the ways that UW–Madison changes lives for the better throughout the state of Wisconsin. March’s theme is Affordability and Excellence. Watch for more at #UWChangesLives on social media. And here’s how you can help.

Transfer students are a vibrant and diverse part of UW–Madison’s student body. Their ranks include military veterans, first-generation college students, returning adult learners, international students and more.

UW-Madison has created several programs in recent years to help transfer students academically, financially and socially.

Badger Promise provides free tuition to Wisconsin students who want to transfer to UW–Madison and who are the first in their families to earn a four-year degree.

All first-generation transfers will receive one year of free tuition. Badger Promise students who are eligible for federal Pell Grants will receive two years of free tuition. First-generation students are more likely to enter UW–Madison as transfer students. Although they face unique challenges, they are also high performers with strong potential.

The program guarantees at least two semesters of free tuition and fees to students who are transferring from any two-year UW College or from liberal arts associate degree programs at Madison College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Western Technical College, Nicolet College, the College of Menominee Nation or the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College. A first-generation student is defined as a student for whom neither parent holds a four-year college or university degree.

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In addition, UW–Madison has an agreement that will allow students who receive financial assistance through Madison College’s Scholars of Promise program to be admitted to UW–Madison to complete their bachelor’s degree at UW–Madison without bearing the cost of tuition and fees.

Under the agreement, Scholars of Promise students who earn their associate degree and are admitted to UW–Madison will receive two years’ tuition and fees at UW–Madison to complete their baccalaureate degree. Of nearly 150 students who are members of the first “Scholars” class, nearly one-third have expressed their intention to transfer to UW–Madison.

To improve access and success, the institutions will partner to offer workshops hosted at Madison College on topics specific to the transfer process, financial wellness, advising and other areas considered to be foundational for success.

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Students work on projects at the brand-new Transfer Engagement Center.

Students work on projects at the Transfer Engagement Center.

Last fall, the Division of Student Life opened the Transfer Engagement Center, a space for transfer students and students of all backgrounds to study, access resources, get advising, and build community. Operating out of 110 Middleton S. Building, a tight-knit team of students and staff work to make the transfer transition as smooth as possible.

Shelby Knuth, the Transfer Transition Program Coordinator who oversees the TEC, said the transfer student population as a whole is more diverse, with more intersecting identities, than the “traditional” student.

“There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ transfer student on this campus, or really on any campus,” Knuth said. “Transfer students bring an abundance of wealth with them to campus, including diverse thought, experiences, and cultures.”

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