Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program for Undergraduate Students

First announced in December 2023, the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program is a commitment to Wisconsin residents who are enrolled members of federally recognized Wisconsin American Indian tribes.

The program guarantees scholarships and grants to meet the full in-state cost of attendance for Wisconsin Native Nations students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree.

About the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

What is the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program?

The Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program provides additional financial support to fund the difference between any previous financial aid received and the full in-state cost of attendance for Native Nations students attending an undergraduate on-campus UW-Madison degree program (current and incoming) who are Wisconsin residents and enrolled member of federally recognized American Indian Tribes in Wisconsin, regardless of financial need. 

Who is eligible?

Students must qualify as a Wisconsin resident for tuition purposes, be pursuing their first undergraduate degree, and be verified as an enrolled member of any one of the eleven federally recognized American Indian Tribes in Wisconsin to be eligible for the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise.

The eleven federally recognized American Indian Tribes in Wisconsin eligible for the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program include:

When can Native Nations students begin to receive the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise? 

  • The program will be offered to all eligible Native Nations students (incoming and current) who enroll for an on-campus program for Fall 2024 and on.
  • It is not retroactive for current Native Nations students or alumni for this or previous academic years.

How long can a Native Nations student participate in this program?

The program will provide eight consecutive semesters (four years) of support for Native Nations students who enter as incoming first-year students and continue to make satisfactory progress, or four consecutive semesters (two years) of support for Native Nations students who enter as new transfer students.

Current students will receive their semesters of eligibility based on their term of admission.

But we understand that students may have interruptions in their academic career. We’re committed to provide dedicated guidance and assistance for each Native Nations student about withdrawing and re-entry. Re-entered students will remain eligible to receive the program funding.

Does a Native Nations student working on a second bachelor’s degree qualify?

No, this program is only for Native Nations students enrolled in their first bachelor’s degree. 

Are there different deadlines or requirements to apply to the university through this program?

All applicants must meet the existing deadlines and requirements for admission to the university.

Does the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program apply to graduate/professional programs?

There is a 5-year pilot of the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program for Law (J.D.) and Medical (M.D.) Native Nation students. Learn More>>

Receiving Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Do Native Nations students needs to apply for this program?

  • Besides submitting the FAFSA®, Native Nation students will need to submit official documentation from a Tribal Enrollment Department to certify they are a member of one of the 11 federally recognized Wisconsin American Indian tribes to the Office of Student Financial Aid. Each Wisconsin American Indian Tribe has their own formal process to enroll members.
  • Beginning on February 1st, 2024, students can submit official documentation via the ‘WI Tribal Educational Promise‘ eForm in their Student Center. Once in the Student Center, students should select the Student eForms tile and then click on the Financial Aid folder. 

Is the FAFSA required?

Yes. All Native Nations students eligible for the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program are required to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)and are required to do so on an annual basis. 

Do Native Nation students need to submit a FAFSA every year?

Native Nations students should complete their FAFSA® each year and as soon as possible after it becomes available. UW-Madison will not have a priority deadline due to the delayed release of the 2024-25 FAFSA®, but we expect it will return in future years. 

The Office of Student Financial Aid will be holding their FAFSA® Frenzy throughout the spring semester to assist students with completing the new FAFSA®. 

How do Native Nations students know if they are a Wisconsin resident?

To be considered a Wisconsin resident, Native Nations students must be bona fide residents of Wisconsin for a full calendar year prior to their enrollment at UW-Madison. Residence status for tuition purposes is reviewed and determined by the Office of the Registrar. Students can review their residence status (if it has been determined) through their My UW Student Center under Profile. In most cases, students living in a different state are not eligible to be considered Wisconsin residents for tuition purposes and therefore are not eligible for the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise. The residency team within the Office of the Registrar can answer any other residency questions: ResidenceForTuition@registrar.wisc.edu.

What if a Native Nations student’s residency status changes?

Only Wisconsin residents who are verified as an enrolled member of any one of the 11 federally recognized American Indian tribes in Wisconsin are eligible. If a Native Nations student’s residency status changes from Wisconsin resident to nonresident, they would no longer be eligible.  

Similarly, if a Native Nations student’s residency status changes from a nonresident to Wisconsin resident and they are verified as an enrolled member to a federally recognized American Indian tribe in Wisconsin, then they would be eligible.

Residence for Tuition Purposes is determined by the Registrar’s Office. Learn More>>

The Financial Aid Offer

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

What costs are covered?

The Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program provides additional financial support to fund the difference between any previous financial aid received and the full in-state cost of attendance, regardless of financial need. 

For 2023-24, our undergraduate tuition is $11,216 and our full expected in-state cost of attendance (COA) is $28,916. We would therefore fund in full the difference between any other scholarships and grants from all sources given to a student and $28,916 (or whatever the estimated COA is for a given year).

While a Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program student...

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

What if the student doesn’t attend full-time?

We strongly encourage students to maintain full-time enrollment; however, the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program will cover the student’s cost of attendance (COA) less their other financial aid, so long as they enroll in at least 6 or more credits (half-time) each semester. Students enrolled in less than 6 credits may be eligible to receive the Federal Pell Grant, but no other financial aid. 

Because the program only guarantees funding for eight consecutive semesters (four years) for incoming first-year Native Nations students and four consecutive semesters (two years) for new transfer Native Nations students, students can make the most of their financial aid by maintaining full-time enrollment.

Can a student receive Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program funding for the summer term?

Yes, summer financial aid is available to Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program Scholars that have completed at least one semester at UW-Madison and are enrolled in at least three credits for summer term will receive combined grant and scholarship funds to cover the tuition and fees for three credits. Work-study and loans may also be offered to you. You can use the loans to cover additional expenses; however, the loans may not be enough to cover your costs for the entire summer. 

There is no application needed for summer financial aid if you’re taking the classes at UW-Madison. 

Enrolling in the summer term does not count against your total number of eligible semesters.

Another option for summer school is to take classes at another campus (such as Madison College or another UW system school). If you’d like to do this, please be sure to consult your academic advisor. You will also need to complete and submit additional paperwork called a consortium agreement. 

You will not get as much financial aid over the summer as you do during the academic year – plan accordingly. 

Can a student receive funding from the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program to study abroad?

Yes, Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Scholars are provided funding to study abroad for one semester. The semester spent abroad will be included in the total eligibility of eight consecutive semesters (four years) of support for Native Nation students who enter as incoming first-year students or four semesters (two years) of support for Native Nation students who enter as new transfer students. 

Can a student receive Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program while participating in a co-op?

Co-op students tend to enroll in only one credit during the semester they participate. Since receipt of Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program support requires students to be enrolled in a minimum of six credits per semester, in most cases, students participating in a co-op will not meet this minimum enrollment requirement. If a Native Nation student must pause receipt of Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program during a co-op semester, that semester will not be counted toward the Program’s 4- or 8-semester limit. 

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

Students must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress to retain eligibility for the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program. 

Academic records are reviewed at the end of each academic year (late May/early June).

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

University Housing has opened an Indigenous Affinity Community, a housing community for Indigenous students and allies. Other support includes the Indigenous Student Center — home to several Indigenous student organizations, including Wunk Sheek — as well as Academic Coaching to Thrive and Succeed, which provides tutoring and academic support for Indigenous students through the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement. 

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

If a student reaches the semester limit of the Wisconsin Tribal Educational Promise Program prior to earning their degree, they may receive federal, state, and institutional financial aid based on the FAFSA to complete their studies.