MADISON

New in-state UW-Madison students from low-to-moderate income families will get free tuition and fees for four years under a new program, university officials announced Thursday.

The initiative, dubbed “Bucky’s Tuition Promise,” guarantees free tuition and no fees for eight semesters for incoming freshmen and four semesters for transfer students who come from homes making no more than $56,000 annually. The program is set to begin this fall.

Such programs are gaining traction at universities across the country as schools try to recruit students in the face of rising tuition costs. Six other Big Ten schools, including Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue, offer a similar pledge.

In-state tuition and fees at UW-Madison now are $10,533 a year. Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a news release that some high school students aren’t applying to UW-Madison because they feel it’s too expensive, and UW officials want to shatter that perception.

“Many low- and middle-income families in Wisconsin simply don’t know whether they can afford to come to UW-Madison,” Blank said as she announced the pledge during a UW System regents meeting Thursday. “Indeed, if they just read the popular press about student debt and sky-rocketing tuition, their assumption will be that they can’t. We want to make it very clear to low- and moderate-income families in Wisconsin that we’re going to do everything we can to make this an affordable school.”

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