State News

Lawmakers hope to retain out-of-state students by giving them back some tuition money

A new bill would provide grant money to out-of-staters who settle down in Wisconsin after graduation in an attempt to address the state’s hemorrhaging labor force.

Legislators hope to convince out-of-state students to remain in Wisconsin after graduation by offering them some of their tuition money back, in an attempt to bolster the state’s struggling workforce numbers.

Wisconsin has a below-average level of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the national rate, at just 29 percent of the population. It also comes up last among Midwest states in attracting new residents, retaining only 10 percent of out-of-state graduates, while losing a hefty 32 percent to nearby Illinois.

Now, lawmakers are proposing a bill that would provide out-of-state students with grant money under the condition that they remain and work in the state for two years after graduating through the UW System or a Wisconsin technical college.

Under this proposal, the Department of Workforce Development would conduct a 10-year program that provides five annual grants in amounts of at least 10 percent of the difference between out-of-state and in-state tuitions.

“We see this as another tool in the toolbox to retain and get individuals from out of state,” said state Sen Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, further adding that the effort would combat Wisconsin’s worker shortage.

This bill comes in the midst of a slew of other state media campaigns to attract new residents, including a $6.8 million advertising initiative proposed by Gov. Scott Walker last November to target “Midwest millennials.”

"Some of the exciting things that millennials are looking forward to or wanting to be a part of: We’ve got them in abundance in the state of Wisconsin," Walker said in November, planning to boast incentives like cheaper housing and quicker commutes to appeal to both in- and out-of-state residents.

So far, the grant bill has yet to be taken up by a committee in either state chamber.

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