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UW System announces tuition affordability plan

UW Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander speaks, while UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt (Right) and UW System President Jay Rothman (Left) listen. (Photo Courtesy: WLUK)
UW Green Bay Chancellor Mike Alexander speaks, while UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt (Right) and UW System President Jay Rothman (Left) listen. (Photo Courtesy: WLUK)
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- University of Wisconsin System leaders are announcing a new program aimed at making college more affordable.

UW System President Jay Rothman, along with UW-Green Bay Chancellor Michael Alexander and UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt spoke at a news conference Wednesday morning at UWGB.

It's called the Wisconsin Tuition Promise and is modeled after the Bucky's Tuition Promise program at UW-Madison.

The initiative will begin in the fall of 2023 to ensure underserved Wisconsin students can attend any UW System university without paying tuition or fees.

"We believe that all students deserve the opportunity to have an education at a UW System school," Rothman said. "Education is that great equalizer."

Rothman said an estimated 8,000 students will be supported through the program once it is fully implemented over four years.

Total enrollment within the UW System has dropped in each of the last seven years. Among underrepresented minorities, it's been mostly stagnant since 2017.

Alexander says this program will make it easier to maintain enrollment.

"For students in low socioeconomic background, having these funds will allow them to not only believe they can go to school but, also, stay in school," Alexander said.

Leavitt said it will ease the financial pressures of people who have had difficulties affording an education.

"This is about helping more students and families eliminate any doubt that they can access and thrive in an incredible college education," he said.

It will apply to students coming from families earning less than $62,000 annually. There are some additional requirements as well.

Rothman said a plan was in the works before he assumed his current role, but now was the right time for it to happen.

"We're moving now to try to address the workforce issues of the future," Rothman said. "The tuition promise is an investment."

Students at UW schools say this additional help will go a long way. UW-Oshkosh student Maxwell Rinn said he's working through the summer and still needs help paying for school.

"This year, I have to take out a $10,000 loan, and it's going to take me a few years to have it paid off," he said.

Rinn hopes future college students take full advantage of the program.

"If any 17- or 18-year-old are applying for college soon, I definitely would take this opportunity and tour schools and definitely apply to a few of them," Rinn said.

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Eligible students will be awarded an average of $4,500 over four years. The UW System intends to fund the first year of the program in the 2023-24 academic year at $13.8 million and then seek state investment for subsequent years.

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