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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, July 26, 2021
Bucky’s Tuition Promise underwrote college expenses for more than 18 percent of UW-Madison freshmen and transfer students this fall.

Bucky’s Tuition Promise underwrote college expenses for more than 18 percent of UW-Madison freshmen and transfer students this fall.

Bucky’s Tuition Promise delivers free tuition to one-fifth of incoming students in first year

In its first fall, Bucky’s Tuition Promise paid tuition for nearly one in five in-state UW-Madison freshmen, according to a university statement.

The grant program, which was announced last February, is designed to cover remaining UW-Madison tuition costs should other forms of financial aid fall short. Families who make less than $56,000 a year are eligible to apply for the scholarship, which is completely supported through private gifts to the university.

The program has already benefited 796 students, or roughly 18.4 percent of freshmen and first-year transfer students during its initial year. The students covered under the commitment represent 65 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. More than half are first-generation college students, meaning neither parent holds a four-year college degree. Nearly one-fourth are transfer students, according to data collected by the university.

“We are fully committed to making UW-Madison accessible and affordable to Wisconsin families,” UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is admitted can afford to be a Badger.”

In 1950, an in-state student at UW-Madison would have paid $120 for tuition. Since then, the cost of college nationwide has increased at three times the normal rate of inflation, creating a towering financial barrier for many potential students, some of whom have stopped applying altogether. Today, that same student would be paying $10,578.

Bucky’s Tuition Promise is one of several new programs designed to make a UW-Madison education accessible to more families throughout the state. It was announced a year after the Badger Promise, a similar scholarship designed for first-generation and transfer students.

There is no cap on the number of students who will receive aid through Bucky’s Promise, according to Karla Weber, communication manager for UW-Madison’s Office of Financial Aid.

“We have guaranteed funding for Bucky’s Promise for incoming students — both freshman and transfer,” Weber told The Daily Cardinal last August. “We project that we will spend $6,725 per BTP recipient [after taking into account other grants].”

In August, Weber anticipated running the program on a budget of about $3.3 million each year.

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