The head of Wisconsin's private colleges would like to put three student financial aid funds into just one pot.
Rolf Wegenke, Ph.D., President of Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities ( WAICU ), says there's a financial aid disparity between colleges within our state.
Although he believes the UW System, the technical schools and the private colleges need more financial aid overall for their students, Wegenke ( pronounce ) says the UW fund gets a much greater percentage, by a ratio of 10-1.
“One solution for the discrepancy among different students is to create a single grant fund for which all Wisconsin students would be eligible. That would simplify it; that would clarify it; there's no possibility of discriminating among students.”
There are currently three different grant funds, two of which have the same name, and students must go to a specific fund for aid.
“If you're in a technical college you cannot have access to UW funds, if you're in a private college you can't have access to the private college funds. It gets very confusing for everyone.”
As Wegenke puts it, a student is a student is a student. He says a single fund for student financial aid is not unheard of.
“Many other states operate their student aid programs on the basis of a single fund to which all students can apply. Wisconsin is one of the few states that divides it up into separate pots.”
Wegenke gives an example: Imagine a family in Wisconsin with three children in college. One student attends UW Oshkosh, one is at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, and the other attends Marquette University — a private college. He says they all simply want an education, but they'd all be treated differently.
“They're the same family, they have the same financial need, and the state shouldn't be saying to that family 'well, we think one of your students – one of your children – deserves more help than that student's two sisters. That is discrimination.”
Wisconsin currently has a Higher Educational Aids Board , which administers the three different funds. Wegenke says the staff could be streamlined to save administrative costs, while making it easier to distribute the money more fairly among students