Thousands of eighth graders can sign up for the Wisconsin Covenant program this week but is there money to pay for it?

Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton says the goal is to enroll all 75-thousand eighth graders but she has no idea how many will actually sign up.

And that's what's frustrating republicans on the Joint Finance Committee who are demanding more information before they vote to put it in the budget.

The Lt. Governor says it's difficult to come up with an exact number but there can be a fairly good estimate of what it will cost the state.

Under the Covenant, if the 8th graders keep a four year promise to get a B average in college prep courses, perform community service and stay out of trouble, then the state will assure them a place at a state university, tech school or private institution in the state and help them bridge their financial gap in paying full tuition.

Lt. Governor Lawton says it's worth the investment because of the returns to the state. A highly educated workforce who can provide for themselves and contribute to the economic future of Wisconsin. 

AUDIO: Jim Dick reports ( 1:07 MP3 )

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