Student Life

A Strong Start for Bucky’s Pell Pathway

The program guarantees financial support for students from low-income Wisconsin families.

Outdoor portrait of Tanner Popp

Popp: “I wanted to get into UW–Madison so badly that it inspired me all through high school in everything I did.” Bryce Richter

For a class assignment in fifth grade, Tanner Popp x’27 penned a letter to his future self. He would become a veterinarian, he wrote, and would attend the UW.

“I wanted to get into UW–Madison so badly that it inspired me all through high school in everything I did,” says Popp, of Coloma, Wisconsin.

That hard work paid off. Today, Popp is a freshman at his dream school. He was also one of 977 students new to campus last fall — 829 freshmen and 148 transfer students — benefiting from Bucky’s Pell Pathway, the university’s newest financial aid initiative.

The program is designed to guarantee Wisconsin residents financial support — after other scholarships and grants — to cover not only tuition and fees but also housing, food, books, and most other educational expenses. Eligibility is based on whether a student qualifies for Federal Pell Grants, which play a crucial role in expanding college opportunity for students in low-income households.

“Many Wisconsin residents have the misapprehension that UW–Madison will be financially out of reach,” says Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin, who announced the initiative last year. “Bucky’s Pell Pathway makes sure that if Pell-eligible students do the hard work to get accepted here, we will meet their full financial need.”

Popp is among the exceptional students in this first class of Bucky’s Pell Pathway recipients. He graduated in the top 10 of his class at Westfield High School — and just like his fifth-grade self, he still wants to be a veterinarian.

Bucky’s Pell Pathway expands on Bucky’s Tuition Promise, now in its sixth year. That program guarantees scholarships and grants to pay for tuition and segregated fees for Wisconsin residents with household adjusted gross incomes of $65,000 or less — about half of the state’s households.

“Almost one in four Wisconsin residents new to campus this fall will be covered by either Bucky’s Tuition Promise or the new Bucky’s Pell Pathway,” says Derek Kindle, vice provost for enrollment management. “Our emphasis on providing access to a top-notch educational experience is helping to retain and support some of the state’s most impressive students.”

Published in the Spring 2024 issue


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