Building stronger WI

We believe that all Wisconsin students who are academically qualified 
– regardless of their backgrounds –

deserve the opportunity to get a quality education.

The Wisconsin Tuition Grant, now known as Wisconsin Grants, was enacted in 1965 to help qualified Wisconsin citizens to succeed. Wisconsin Grants are the primary state-funded, need-based financial aid program for Wisconsin students attending institutions of higher education in Wisconsin. Wisconsin Grants funding has received bipartisan support.

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An investment in Wisconsin’s future

Our workforce depends on it.

Well-paying jobs with benefits increasingly require higher education. Of the 11.6 million jobs created after the last recession, 11.5 million went to workers with at least some college education.1 A higher attainment rate — the proportion of those aged 25-64 with an education beyond high school — is tied to greater labor force participation and increased earnings. The Lumina Foundation reports that Wisconsin’s attainment rate is just over 51 percent. Wisconsin has set an attainment goal of 60 percent by 2027. 

64,594 students from around the state attending institutions in all sectors receive a Wisconsin Grant.2

Combating demographic trends and addressing Wisconsin’s talent needs

Demographic and population trends project a dramatic reduction in the number of high school graduates who will pursue a postsecondary credential after high school. Despite this, workforce shortages in critical occupations remain. In order to increase Wisconsin’s attainment rate (individuals with a postsecondary credential), the state will need to effectively target students who have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education such as low-income, first generation, minority, and nontraditional students. Wisconsin Grants are a targeted way to support individuals who would otherwise be unable to attend. The demographic challenges are real, but by supporting Wisconsin Grants and other targeted policies, we can work strategically and tactically to support Wisconsin’s economy and support Wisconsin’s future workforce.

Addressing disparity in opportunity

Nationally, 77 percent of adults from families in the top income quartile earned at least a bachelor’s degree by the time they turned 24. But only nine percent of people from the lowest income quartile did the same.3

Need-based student aid pays for itself

It is estimated that any increases in financial aid targeted at students below the 45th percentile of parental income will be self-financing in terms of future tax revenue.4

We depend on it.

We all depend on continued support of Wisconsin Grants. By investing in Wisconsin Grants, Wisconsin is investing not only in each individual student’s success, but also in the state’s workforce/economy and the quality of civic and cultural life for everyone who lives here.

Sources: [1] Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, “America’s Divided Recovery,” 2016  [2] Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB), 2019-20 [3] University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity and Higher Education, Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States, 2015 [4] Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ Opportunity & Inclusive Growth Institute, “Optimal Need-Based Financial Aid,” 2018

Our Mission


The mission of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU) is “Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities working together for educational opportunity.” The 23 WAICU-member colleges and universities operate without direct taxpayer support, but provide an invaluable public service to the state, educating more than 54,000 students a year. Many of Wisconsin’s best and brightest need financial aid to attend the college of their choice. Wisconsin Grants play an integral part in achieving our mission of helping qualified Wisconsin citizens to succeed.

Partners in building Wisconsin’s workforce

Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges are preparing students for high-demand careers. They produce 24 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the state, and:

  • 25% of the business grads
  • 25% of the engineering grads
  • 41% of the health professions grads
  • 51% of the four-year (BSN) nursing grads

Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges produce 35 percent of all graduate degrees in the state, and:

  • 37% of pharmacy degrees
  • 45% of education degrees
  • 45% of business degrees
  • 47% of medical doctoral degrees
  • 59% of physician assistant degrees
  • 100% of dentists

Contact Your Legislators

Message to representatives

Show your support for student aid

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