Financial Literacy for Today’s College Bound Students

submitted by Kay Schwichtenberg; photo by Pete Christianson

Derek Kindle 10 31 2018

From left: Nasra Wehelie, Nick Curran, Derek Kindle and Virginia Bartelt

Rotarians celebrated Halloween on Wednesday with a topic that frightens even hardened fans of horror movies — college tuition.

Derek Kindle from the office of Student Financial Aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison administers more than $450M in federal, state, institutional and private aid annually.  While the topic is often front and center in the press and on the minds of many parents, grandparents and college students, the reality can be far more complex than just headlines.

College costs are rising while state support for higher education is on a steep decline.  Tuition and fees in the state of Wisconsin are slightly below average in the US and compared to neighboring states.  And while official data sources consistently report that those with a degree earn more on average than those without one, the question remains: How can students and families take advantage of the benefits education offers, but still manage the costs within their means.

Annual family income for 39% of the 2018 undergraduates is less than $80,000 with half of that number falling under $39,000.  While 53% of UW undergraduates graduate without debt, the remaining students have an average student loan burden at graduation of $27,138.  So, what are the steps to mitigate the burden of education costs?

Kindle says loud and clear that FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the best place to start.  The 2020 FAFSA applications are now available. The University spends considerable resources on communicating with counselors and high schools, youth organizations and directly with students across the state.  As part of that communication blitz, student aid advisors are also touting university aid programs.

New this year, “Bucky’s Tuition Promise” covers tuition and fees for Wisconsin students with family adjusted gross income below the state’s median income of $56,000.

The “Badger Ready Program” is for returning adults and veterans with 24 credits and a 2-year minimum break in attendance from an accredited institution.

How does UW look at the success with these programs?  Kindle shared two indicators: The freshmen retention rate is 95.3% and the average time to earn a degree has been lowered significantly over the last few years to 4.03 years.

Links to all the programs that were mentioned today are listed below.

Badger Promise                                    https://financialaid.wisc.edu/types-of-aid/ftb/

Bucky’s Tuition Promise                         https://financialaid.wisc.edu/btp

Chancellor’s &Powers-Knapp Scholars    https://cspks.wisc.edu/

PEOPLE Program                                 https://peopleprogram.wisc.edu/

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