Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:37 pm
Lakeland University will begin offering a free tuition program next fall for qualifying students.
The university, located in rural Sheboygan County, said it is the first private college in Wisconsin to offer such a program, which will cover tuition and fees through the Wisconsin State Grant, Federal Pell Grant and Lakeland funding.
The program, called the Lakeland Promise, will be available to in-state dependent students whose household adjusted gross income is less than $40,000 or independent students with an income of less than $15,000. Students whose expected family contribution is less than $1,700 will also qualify, regardless of household income.
The program will allow incoming students to attend Lakeland tuition- and fee-free for four years, and transfer students for up to three years.
“With so much national debate rightly focused on addressing the student debt crisis, at Lakeland we’re flipping the script on the cost of getting a college education,” said David Black, president of Lakeland. “Imagine graduating in four years with no debt and some money in the bank to get your life started. The Lakeland Promise offers that pathway to motivated students.”
Lakeland joins a growing number of public colleges that offer free tuition programs.
Milwaukee Area Technical College launched its MATC Promise program in 2015 to provide free tuition to low-income high school graduates. In 2018, the college expanded eligibility for the Promise program to cover tuition costs for students 24 years and older who are living in the MATC district and have already completed some college credits. That program, the MATC Promise for Adults, provides eligible adults free tuition, after scholarships and grants are applied, for up to 75 credits toward an associate degree tied to a top 50 in-demand career in Wisconsin.
In May, Lakeland announced it would establish a scholarship fund to extend that program program to graduating MATC Promise students who go on to attend the university full-time.
Lakeland has worked to address the student debt crisis in recent years through its cooperative education model, which allows students to gain 12 to 18 months of professional work experience with area companies and earn wages and scholarships over four years to defray tuition costs.
“One of the great misconceptions is that a private, liberal arts education is too expensive and out of reach,” Black said. “Lakeland has been offering a private education at a public school cost for years. Students and parents are responding to our innovative use of co-op to earn a degree with little or no debt while earning professional work experience.”