Chancellor calls free tuition plan ‘real incentive’ for first-generation transfer students

Scholarship plan would cost at least $1.5 million
Chancellor calls free tuition plan ‘real incentive’ for first-generation transfer students

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s chancellor wants more first-generation students coming to campus and has announced an effort to offer some of them free tuition if they do.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank made the announcement at the UW System Board of Regents meeting in Madison Thursday.

“I want to bring a world-class education into reach for more first-generation Wisconsin students,” Blank said.

She said the new incentive would be part of an updated transfer agreement with the state’s two-year colleges and some tech schools. Under the program, students who make a 3.2 grade point average in two years and are the first in their family to go to college would get automatic admission to UW-Madison and at least one year of free tuition.

“It’s a real incentive for those first-generation college students, the people who we want getting more skills and being in the Wisconsin workforce, to come on to Madison and have an opportunity for them to get a world-class college degree,” Blank said.

A spokesman for the university said the scholarship would cost at least $1.5 million a year, and would be contingent on “new investment” from the state.

The UW System has requested $42.5 million in the next state budget. Gov. Scott Walker has not said whether he’ll fulfill that request, but has said he intends to fund a tuition cut for students system-wide.

Some Republican lawmakers expressed admiration of the aim of making college more affordable some students, they also said they wanted to evaluate the effect of increasing the GPA for which transfer students would be admitted from 2.8 to 3.2.

“We need to ensure that changes to transfer requirements don’t limit prospective students’ access to higher education.,” Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said in a statement. “I’ll have to see more details, specifically regarding the change in admittance requirements, before I fully commit to supporting the chancellor’s transfer proposal.”