Student Life

A Path to Debt-Free Education

Bucky’s Pell Pathway will cover eligible students’ full financial need.

Bascom Hall at sunrise.

The program will allow most students to complete a four-year degree without taking on debt to cover educational expenses. Bryce Richter

UW–Madison has long been committed to ensuring that an education at the state’s flagship public institution is affordable and accessible for Wisconsin residents. A new program called Bucky’s Pell Pathway significantly strengthens that commitment.

The UW has pledged to meet the full financial need for four years for new first-year Wisconsin-resident students who qualify for Pell Grants, the federal program that plays a critical role in expanding college access for students in low-income households. Transfer students from Wisconsin meeting the same criteria will receive two years of full-need funding.

More than 800 incoming students are expected to be eligible in the upcoming year.

“If we are going to live our values of creating real access and opportunity, we need to do more for our students from Wisconsin’s lowest-income households — our Pell Grant recipients,” says UW chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin. “Bucky’s Pell Pathway will, in most instances, allow recipients to complete a four-year degree without taking on debt to cover their educational expenses.”

The program will guarantee grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities sufficient to cover a Pell-eligible student’s full financial need (defined as cost of attendance minus any expected family contribution). The guarantee covers not just tuition and fees, but also housing, meals, books, and most other educational expenses.

Bucky’s Pell Pathway will also include funds to ensure that eligible students can be more fully involved in the many life-changing experiences the university offers, such as study-abroad opportunities and summer-term courses.

Bucky’s Pell Pathway expands on the groundbreaking Bucky’s Tuition Promise, which guarantees scholarships and grants to pay for tuition and segregated fees for Wisconsin residents whose household adjusted gross income is roughly at or below the state median income. The UW has raised the eligibility threshold for household income for Bucky’s Tuition Promise from $60,000 to $65,000, meaning even more Wisconsin students will qualify.

“The bottom line is, if you are eligible for one of these programs, we’ve got you covered,” says Derek Kindle, vice provost for enrollment management. “We want to continue to message to our talented and competitive Wisconsin residents that we will help remove any financial barriers to becoming a Badger.”

Published in the Summer 2023 issue


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