Bucky's Tuition Promise


News release

Email for the Office of Financial Aid

Phone for the Office of Financial Aid 

333 E Campus Mall #9701, Madison, WI 53715

8:00AM-4:30PM M-F Closed on Weekends

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 $56,000 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).

  • Chancellor Blank announced this new initiative at the Board of Regents meeting on February 8, 2018.
  • Bucky's Tuition Promise is a pledge to cover four years of tuition and segregated fees for any incoming freshman from Wisconsin whose family’s annual household adjusted gross income is $56,000 or less, roughly the median family income in Wisconsin. Transfer students from Wisconsin meeting the same criteria will receive two years of tuition and segregated fees.
Quick Facts:
  • Begins fall 2018 for incoming freshmen and transfer students
  • Tuition and segregated fees for 8 semesters for incoming freshmen and 4 for incoming transfer students covered
  •  Students must fill out  Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year
  • No separate application needed; automatically awarded to eligible students by the Office of Student Financial Aid

Who is eligible? 
New incoming Wisconsin resident students, whether freshmen or transfer, whose household AGI is $56,000 or less. 

How is household adjusted gross income (AGI) defined? 
Household AGI is a combination of the student’s AGI plus the parent(s)’ AGI as reflected both on their federal income tax return and on the FAFSA. Family assets are not included. 

Do I have to attend full-time? 
We strongly encourage students to maintain full-time enrollment. Our financial aid commitment will cover the student’s full cost of tuition and segregated fees for the number of credits they choose to take. However, the commitment is only guaranteed for either eight (8) consecutive semesters for incoming freshmen or four (4) consecutive semesters for incoming transfers. 

What scholarships/grants will students receive? 
Structured as a last-dollar award, Bucky’s Tuition Promise will ensure sufficient funding is received to supplement the gap between any scholarships or grants that the student receives outside of this program and the full cost of tuition and segregated fees.

If students get a private scholarship that covers their tuition and segregated fees, can they use this program for other college-related expenses? 
No. However, students should still submit their FAFSAs as other financing options may be available to help cover other college-related expenses. 

Is the FAFSA required? 
Yes. All students eligible for Bucky’s Tuition Promise are required to submit the FAFSA by UW–Madison’s December 1 priority deadline and are required to do so on an annual basis.

Where does funding for Bucky’s Tuition Promise come from? 
The program is made possible through private gifts and other institutional resources. The university expects to invest about $825,000 per year, per class beyond what it already offers students in aid. It is not funded with tax dollars. 

Does this mean I won’t need to take out student loans? 
Bucky’s Tuition Promise is not the maximum amount of financial aid a student can receive. Rather, it is the university’s minimum commitment. Students may be eligible for further grant or scholarship aid to cover expenses such as housing and food, and students may also be eligible for student loans if they need further help in paying living expenses. 

Can a student receive this funding in summer? 
No. Bucky’s Tuition Promise applies only 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 (https://summer.wisc.edu/summer-scholarship/) and  the Transfer Scholars Summer Award (https://summer.wisc.edu/transfer-scholars-summer-award/). 

Why is the cutoff for eligibility based on a household adjusted gross income of $56,000? 
UW–Madison selected $56,000 as the income figure because it closely approximates the state median household income and allows for an increase in the average based on the last few tax years. (The 2012–2016 median household income for Wisconsin is $54,610, the latest 5-year estimate available from the U.S. Census Bureau.) “Median” means half of all Wisconsin households have a higher income, and half lower. Only income, not assets, will be used to determine eligibility. This approach keeps the formula simple and is especially important in an agricultural state where many farm families may have high reported assets but low incomes. 

What if my AGI is over $56,000? 
UW–Madison is committed to providing greater access and affordability for all Wisconsin residents. Students with a household AGI more than $56,000 are still eligible for other financial aid programs administered by the university. 

Will I still be eligible for merit-based aid? 
Students eligible for Bucky’s Tuition Promise may still receive merit-based aid.

For more information and additional Frequently Asked Questions, visit: