Getting the word out on Bucky’s Tuition Promise

I wrote an op-ed about Bucky’s Tuition Promise and it recently appeared in several local newspapers around the state. We launched the program as one of many efforts to dispel the myth that UW-Madison is unaffordable or unattainable for Wisconsin residents. I encourage you to share it with any prospective students or families who may be interested in becoming a Badger!

With ‘Bucky’s Tuition Promise,’ UW-Madison’s commitment to Wisconsin students expands

Over the last several years, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has taken several steps to ensure that an education at the state’s flagship public university is accessible to Wisconsin students and affordable for their families. I’m very pleased to let you know that we’re expanding on that commitment. It’s called Bucky’s Tuition Promise, and here’s how it works.

Beginning this fall, incoming freshmen and transfer students from Wisconsin households with adjusted gross incomes of $56,000 or less will receive free tuition and segregated fees. For freshmen, that is a commitment of eight consecutive semesters tuition free, and for transfer students it’s up to four semesters free.

We’re doing this because we know many low- and middle-income families in Wisconsin are simply uncertain whether they can afford to send their child to UW-Madison. We don’t want even one Wisconsin high school student to automatically rule us out for financial reasons. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who is admitted can afford to be a Badger.

We’ve made eligibility as simple and straightforward as possible. It is based solely on one line from a family’s income tax form, called adjusted gross income. We chose $56,000 because it is roughly the state median household income. There are no other qualifying factors and no separate application process. All the information we need is contained in an applicant’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

I want to especially point out that only income, not assets, will be used to determine eligibility. This is important in an agricultural state where many farm families may have high reported assets but low incomes. We also know that, broadly speaking, incomes in rural areas have not kept pace with those in larger metro areas. We want this effort to be a boon for families in smaller towns and rural parts of the state. We believe we’ve structured it to achieve that goal.

With Bucky’s Tuition Promise, we are thrilled to be able to guarantee that students from so many Wisconsin families will know that their tuition is covered if they attend UW-Madison. You can read more about our promise at Or drop us a line with your financial aid questions to