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The most recent data from 2021 showed 57.2 percent of graduating seniors completed their education from UW–Madison without debt. The national average for a public, four-year institution degree is 42 percent. Keeping UW’s cost of attendance down has been a priority of the university. Bucky’s Tuition Promise, announced in 2018, offers full tuition scholarships to qualifying Wisconsin resident students. In the 2022–23 schoolyear, 937 freshmen from 66 counties received the scholarship. But tuition represents less than half of the cost of attendance for in-state students, so the UW has developed new programs to widen the scope of financial aid packages. Set to launch in the fall of 2023, Bucky’s Pell Pathway expands Bucky’s Tuition Promise by covering expenses outside of tuition, including housing, meals, books, and laptops for qualified recipients. More financial aid programs are available to students from all demographics with varying levels of demonstrated need. In addition to increasing affordability, UW–Madison is working to make college accessible to a larger population of students. It recently joined 15 other colleges and universities in the Small Town and Rural Students (STARS) College Network, to expand recruitment channels for students who might not be aware of the full range of educational opportunities available to them.

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