Students transferring to the University of Wisconsin Madison campus who are the first in their families to attend college would get a tuition-free year at the school, under a proposal outlined Thursday by Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
Blank’s proposal, presented to the UW System Board of Regents during a meeting on the campus Thursday, would allow first generation students transferring from a two-year college in the state to the UW-Madison to receive grants covering at least one year of tuition. Students eligible for a Pell Grant could get up to two years tuition-free.
Blank said those students are often at risk for not completing their education, because of the challenges they face. “They don’t have the family advising, their families are often not high-income, they’re more likely to start at a two-year school to live at home, and they’re more likely to drop out,” she said.
It’s estimated the plan would cost the campus about $1.5 million annually and Blank said it will be a top priority, if the state budget includes more funding for her campus. “I want to bring a world-class education into reach for more first generation students,” she said.
Republican leaders in the state Legislature offered some reservations about the plan. Rep. Dave Murphy (R-Greenville), who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, questioned why the proposal was not included in the UW System’s budget request. “Other institutions have successfully implemented promise programs with private donations, I will evaluate Chancellor Blank’s proposal in the context of the entire budget,” Murphy said in a statement.