MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) — Almost 800 students started school at UW-Madison in Sep. 2018 without having to worry about tuition. These students are covered by Bucky’s Tuition Promise, a program the university announced in February.
Bucky’s Tuition Promise guarantees four years of tuition for freshmen and two years of tuition for transfer students who meet certain requirements. The students have to live in Wisconsin, and their family income must be less than $56,000.
Ethan Heckler, a freshman at UW-Madison, is one of those students. He and his family found about the program before he was accepted to UW-Madison, but that helped solidify his desire to go there. Once he found out he qualified for the Bucky Tuition Promise, he and his family were very excited.
“I said to my mom, we got accepted. And she started screaming and jumping yelling, I started screaming and jumping and yelling,” Heckler said. “This was something our family had never experienced before, this was something unheard of for us.”
Heckler said this program is what made coming to Madison a real possibility for him. Without it, he might not be here.
“Honestly, it’s a realistic idea that I wouldn’t have been able to do my first year and I would have had to spend my first year working to save up money for college,” he said.
Greg Offerman, Associate Director of Advising and Outreach at UW’s Office of Student Financial Aid, said the program came about as a way to make the financial aid process simpler — and to give more students access to a college education.
“We know that receiving that degree is the quickest way that a student or a family can improve their lot in life and we want to be a part of that,” Offerman said. “And we know that financing that degree is a big issue and a barrier for some, so we want to do everything that we can working in financial aid to remove those barriers and help students focus on what’s most important which is their academics.”
Heckler and his family are still responsible for his housing and meal costs, but they have been able to cover some of that with other financial aid. Heckler said above all, he is grateful for the chance to experience everything UW has to offer.
“The school and all the people who helped out in making this a reality, I wish I could thank every one of them personally, I really do,” he said.
“The idea that it’s happened is unbelievable. I’m so speechless every day that I get to like be on this campus with all of the help that I’m given and its’s amazing.”
To qualify for Bucky’s Tuition Promise, students have to file the FAFSA. There is no separate application for the tuition promise. For current high school students, the deadline to file is Saturday, Dec. 1.