Bucky’s Tuition Promise

First announced in February 2018, Bucky’s Tuition Promise is a commitment to Wisconsin resident students.

The program guarantees scholarships and grants to pay for tuition & segregated fees for students whose household adjusted gross income (AGI) is $58,000 or less. Incoming freshmen will receive eight (8) consecutive semesters (4 years) of free tuition & segregated fees and transfer students will receive four (4) semesters (2 years).

One student’s experience with Bucky’s Tuition Promise.

About Bucky's Tuition Promise

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What is Bucky's Tuition Promise?

Bucky’s Tuition Promise is a commitment to Wisconsin resident students.  The program guarantees scholarships and grants to pay for tuition and segregated fees for students whose household adjusted gross income (AGI) is $58,000 or less.  Incoming freshmen will receive eight (8) consecutive semesters (4 years) of free tuition and segregated fees and transfer students will receive four (4) semesters (2 years).

Who is eligible?

New incoming Wisconsin resident students, whether freshmen or transfer, whose household AGI is $58,000 or less.  Only income, not assets will be used to determine eligibility.  See the Eligibility & Deadline chart below.

How long can a student participate in this program?

Incoming freshmen are eligible to receive eight (8) consecutive semesters (4 years) of tuition and segregated fees.  New transfer students are eligible for four (4) consecutive semesters (2 years).

When does this program begin?

Bucky’s Tuition Promise will be offered to incoming students (freshmen and transfers) who will first enroll Fall 2018.

Can new students (whether freshmen or transfer) be admitted for the spring term and be eligible for Bucky's Tuition Promise?

Yes. Students can apply to begin either for the fall or spring terms and will still be considered for Bucky’s Tuition Promise as long as their FAFSA was submitted by our December 1 priority deadline.

Why isn't funding available to current students?

Bucky’s Tuition Promise was announced on February 8, 2018 and is able to fund incoming students beginning Fall 2018.

Does a student working on a second bachelor's degree qualify for Bucky's Tuition Promise?

No.  This program is only for students enrolled in their first bachelor’s degree.

Does Bucky's Tuition Promise apply to graduate/professional programs?

No.  Bucky’s Tuition Promise is only for students earning their first bachelor’s degree.

What if a student's household AGI is over $58,000?

There are other financing options! Students are strongly encouraged to submit the FAFSA and apply for scholarships through the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH).  Our office also provide a Net Price Calculator to help estimate a student’s financial aid offer.

Receiving Bucky's Tuition Promise

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Do students need to apply?

No. Bucky’s Tuition Promise is automatically awarded to eligible students who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  No separate application is necessary and the Office of Student Financial Aid will notify eligible students.

Is the FAFSA required?

Yes.  All students eligible for Bucky’s Tuition Promise are required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and are required to do so on an annual basis.

Is there a deadline to submit the FAFSA?

**All incoming students for 2018-19 will be considered for this program regardless of their FAFSA submission date.**

But, incoming students for the 2019-20 academic year will be required to submit their 2019-20 FAFSA by December 1, 2018 to be eligible for this promise.  That priority deadline will continue for subsequent academic years – see the Eligibility & Deadline chart below.

What happens if a student's FAFSA is not submitted by the December 1 priority deadline?

**All 2018-19 incoming students will be considered for this program regardless of their FASFA submission date.**

In future years, incoming students who don’t have their FAFSA submitted by our priority deadline, but otherwise would be eligible, may have their applications reviewed based on remaining funding. Note that funding is limited and there is no guarantee of available funding for students whose FAFSA is received after the December 1st priority deadline.

How is the household Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) defined?

Household AGI is a combination of a student’s AGI plus their parent(s)’ AGI as reflected both on the federal income tax return and on the FAFSA.

Federal Tax Year Tax Form Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
2016 & 2017 Form 1040 Line 37
Form 1040A Line 21
Form 1040 EZ Line 4
2018 Form 1040 Line 7

What if a student's household AGI was initially $58,000 or less, but in a future year is expected to be higher?

Any increases to the household AGI that occur in subsequent tax years will not impact a student’s eligibility for this program.

What if a student's household AGI was not initially $58,000 or less, but is expected to drop in a future tax year?

Only incoming students will be considered for Bucky’s Tuition Promise.  However, decreases to a student’s household AGI may help the student be eligible for additional financial aid outside of the program.

What if a student's residency status changes?

Only those students who become a Wisconsin resident during their first academic year at UW-Madison will be considered for Bucky’s Tuition Promise.  We will review these applications based on remaining funding.

Students who lose Wisconsin resident status will be removed from the program for future terms, though they may still be eligible for other sources of financial aid.

The Financial Aid Offer

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What grants/scholarships will a student receive?

Structured as a last-dollar award, Bucky’s Tuition Promise will supplement the gap between any scholarships or grants offered outside of this program and the full cost of tuition and segregated fees. Institutional scholarships (i.e. from UW-Madison Schools/Colleges/Departments) will be excluded from the calculation with the exception of UW-Madison scholarships that either cover a student’s full cost of tuition and segregated fees or that are paid from the Athletic Department. If a student receives other scholarships or grants from any other source, these awards would be considered in determining the gap between current grant/scholarship aid and the full cost of tuition and segregated fees.

This also means that although a student is receiving Bucky’s Tuition Promise, they may not have a “Buckys Tuition Promise” included as part of their financial aid offer.

Are scholarships from private sources used to calculate a student's gap?

Yes. All sources of gift aid (grants or scholarships) from private sources are included in the calculation. If a student receives additional funding from any source after the gap between current grant/scholarship aid and the full cost of tuition and segregated fees is calculated, students will still have their tuition and segregated fees covered, but any amount of “Buckys Tuition Promise” may be reduced or canceled.

If a student is getting a private scholarship that covers their tuition and segregated fees, can s/he use Bucky's Tuition Promise for other college-related expenses?

No.  However, students should still submit their FAFSA as other financing options may be available to help cover other college-related expenses.

What will Bucky's Tuition Promise do to address student expenses beyond tuition and segregated fees?

Bucky’s Tuition Promise is a commitment to tuition and segregated fees, but we recognize this is just one step in the direction of expanding access for students.  Although there is no guarantee to meet the full cost of attendance, students still have access to other forms of financial aid from the FAFSA to assist in meeting their educational costs.

What segregated fees are covered?

Segregated fees are those charges, in addition to tuition, assessed to all students for student services, activities, programs, and facilities.  The current listing of fees is available from the Office of the Registrar.

In addition to segregated fees, new students will also have both their New Student Fee ($275 Freshmen, $200 Transfers) and official-document fee ($65) paid through Bucky’s Tuition Promise.

While a student...

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What if a student doesn't attend full-time?

We strongly encourage students to maintain full-time enrollment; however, our financial aid commitment will cover a student’s full cost of tuition and segregated fees for the number of credits s/he chooses to take.  However, the commitment is only guaranteed for either eight (8) semesters for incoming freshmen or four (4) semesters for incoming transfers.

Can a student receive funding from Bucky's Tuition Promise for the summer term?

No.  Bucky’s Tuition Promise only applies to fall and spring semesters and cannot be applied to summer term tuition or fees.  However, other financing options may be available for summer educational expenses, including both the Undergraduate Scholarship for Summer Study and the Transfer Scholars Summer Award.

Can a student receive funding from Bucky's Tuition Promise to study abroad?

Although Bucky’s Tuition Promise is not available to assist in paying Study Abroad-related expenses, students should still submit their FAFSA as other financing options may be available.  We strongly encourage students who are considering studying abroad to meet with both a Study Abroad (https://studyabroad.wisc.edu/) and Financial Aid advisor to consider all of their options.

Can a student receive funding from Bucky's Tuition Promise for coursework taken at another school?

Although Bucky’s Tuition Promise is not available to assist in paying for coursework taken at another school, students should still submit their FAFSA as other financing options may be available. We strongly encourage students who are considering taken coursework at another school to meet with a Financial Aid advisor to consider all of their options.

Does Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) impact a student's eligibility?

Yes. If a student does not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, the student will either need an approved appeal or must meet the SAP requirements before any financial aid is received for subsequent terms – including financial aid provided through Bucky’s Tuition Promise.

Will students be given any support services in addition to the funding to keep them on track to graduate?

The success of our students is extremely important to us. Students that receive Bucky’s Tuition Promise are encouraged to take advantage of existing resources.

What if a student needs more time to finish their degree?

Although additional funding is not guaranteed, students receiving Bucky’s Tuition Promise who use their full eligibility but haven’t yet graduated will be reviewed internally to see if any additional funding may be offered.  Students will be notified by the Office of Student Financial Aid of funding options for terms that extend beyond their eight (8) semesters for incoming freshmen or four (4) semesters for incoming transfers.

One goal of Bucky’s Tuition Promise is to be as clear and simple as possible to break through some of the negative noise surrounding the cost of higher education. In collaboration with our partners at DoIT, we created the video below to highlight why a program like Bucky’s Tuition Promise is important for Wisconsin families. Enjoy!

Eligibility & Deadline Chart

Incoming Academic Year Federal Tax Year AGI ≤ $58,000 FAFSA Priority Deadline December 1st
2019-20 2017 2018
2020-21 2018 2019
2021-22 2019 2020
2022-23 2020 2021

Bucky's Tuition Promise in the News