UW-Madison Offers Farm Kids Free Tuition

November 16, 2018 05:25 PM
A new University of Wisconsin-Madison program, called Bucky’s Tuition Promise, provides free tuition for students from low- and moderate-income households.

A new University of Wisconsin-Madison program, called Bucky’s Tuition Promise, provides free tuition for students from low- and moderate-income households — perfect timing for dairy families struggling with low milk prices.

The program guarantees scholarships and grants to pay tuition and fees for any student whose family’s adjusted gross income (AGI) is $56,000 or less, according to a University of Wisconsin press release. Because the threshold is calculated with AGI, assets are not considered in the awarding process, which is a huge plus for families in the dairy business.

“It’s a game changer for rural families,” Ted Halbach, who oversees undergraduate recruiting for the UW-Madison’s dairy science department, said in a statement. “The ag economy is depressed because of low commodity prices, and there’s a direct tie between commodity prices and rural incomes. For a student who has the academic ability to come to UW-Madison but couldn’t do it for financial reasons, this takes that barrier away.”

UW-Madison professor Kent Weigel, who chairs the dairy science department, agrees this is a game changer for dairy farm families whose children often miss out on scholarship opportunities because of assets.

“Eligibility is based on adjusted gross income, not assets,” he says. “That’s important because if you have a farm you have significant assets, but you don’t necessarily have much income.”

Unlike many programs, the funding continues for four years, even if a family’s income increases after the student starts, Weigel points out. This is critical because of the income volatility dairy farmers see regularly.

According to Weigel, this program will help ensure students get the education they need to succeed despite the current farm economy.

“It’s good for the students and their families, and it’s good for the dairy science department because we get a diversity of students from all backgrounds. And it will be good for the state, because a lot of them will go back and work locally either in farming or an agricultural business,” he says.


Don’t Miss Out

There are just two weeks left for students to take advantage of Bucky’s Promise Tuition. While you don’t have to apply for the program itself, you must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students hoping to attend school in the fall must submit their FASFA by Dec. 1. Students who miss that deadline will still be considered, but funds will not be guaranteed.

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