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Proposed Badger Promise program would cut tuition for state’s first-generation college students

February 2, 2017
Photo: Keith Woodward teaching class

Assistant professor Keith Woodward speaks with students in his Geography 101 course in Science Hall on the first day of classes in fall 2014. Photo: Bryce Richter

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is announcing two new efforts to help ensure it is accessible and affordable to transfer students from across the state.

The first effort involves updating transfer contracts between the 14 two-year UW Campuses and UW–Madison. Under the updated contract, UW Colleges students who sign a transfer contract within their first year, maintain a GPA of 3.2 and complete two years of studies earning credits that will transfer to UW–Madison will be ensured admission to UW–Madison. A similar plan is moving forward for students in liberal arts transfer programs at four technical colleges: Madison College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Nicolet College, and the College of Menominee Nation.

Rebecca Blank

Rebecca Blank

In addition, if UW–Madison receives sufficient new investment in the 2017-19 biennial budget, UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank is committed to guaranteeing at least one year of tuition free for first-generation Wisconsin students transferring under the new transfer agreement. Under the proposed Badger First-Generation Transfer Promise program, any first-generation Wisconsin resident student entering under the Badger Promise would receive grants that cover at least one year of tuition at UW–Madison. And, those who are Pell Grant eligible would have two full years of tuition covered.

“Providing greater access and affordability to Wisconsin residents is a shared priority of our campus, our Regents and state leaders, and we believe that the Badger Promise helps achieve that goal,” UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says.

“The enhanced transfer contracts and commitment to provide aid for first-generation students gives Wisconsin families greater access to one of the top research and academic institutions in the world.”

Students completing their studies within four years (eight semesters), split between a transfer contract school and UW–Madison, would be able to earn a UW–Madison degree for less than $22,000 in tuition and fee costs – approximately half the cost of a four-year program of studies at UW–Madison for in-state undergraduates. For those demonstrating Pell Grant eligibility, the costs would be even lower, since their final two years (four semesters) of study would be tuition free at UW–Madison.

Sarah Mangelsdorf

Sarah Mangelsdorf

“We’re very excited about this new level of partnership, further strengthening the relationship between UW–Madison and UW Colleges, and equally so our relationship with the Wisconsin Technical Colleges,” UW–Madison Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf says. “The program provides an opportunity to serve a very important population of students and increase the number of bachelor’s degrees granted statewide.”

UW Colleges and UW Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen says the program addresses the needs of a critical set of students.

“As a first-generation college graduate myself, and chancellor of the UW institution with the highest proportion of first-generation students, I applaud UW–Madison’s proposal to provide tuition-free education for UW Colleges transfer students. Affordability is a critical issue for students today. This program is one step in the right direction,” Sandeen says.

Blank says directing aid to first-generation students will increase the skill level of the Wisconsin workforce.

“These are exactly the students we want to finish their degrees and succeed if we are going to increase the skill levels of Wisconsin’s working adults,” Blank says.  “I’m hearing support for providing additional dollars to higher education in the upcoming budget, and hope that UW–Madison will receive funds to allow us to launch this program.”

The transfer pathway at UW–Madison represents a vital component of UW’s commitment to the state, she adds. Transfer students at UW–Madison are 70 percent more likely to be first-generation college students than students admitted as new freshman.

The Division of Enrollment Management and other key campus stakeholders at UW–Madison look forward to greater collaboration with their partners at the UW Colleges and Wisconsin Technical Colleges to provide advising and assistance to students once they have signed the transfer contract.

Details regarding the Transfer Contract program and expectations of students who participate