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Take Action! Support WAICU’s $25.5 Million Wisconsin Grant Appropriation Increase

The Joint Committee on Finance invites you to submit your input on state budget items. They developed a central portal for your input, which will reach the entire committee.

The time is now to voice your support for our requested $25.5 million increase in the Wisconsin Grant appropriation for students attending Wisconsin private, nonprofit colleges and universities.

Submit your comments through the Public Comment Form or via this dedicated email address .

A template message to personalize and submit to the Budget Committee can be found here. You can send your 2023-2025 biennial budget feedback through April 26, 2023, the last public hearing date.

WAICU President Eric W. Fulcomer, Carroll University President Cindy Gnadinger, and Senior Vice President for Advocacy Rebecca Larson provided public testimony April 5 in Waukesha at the first state budget Joint Committee on Finance hearing. The trio shared advantages to Wisconsin’s economy of increasing the Wisconsin Grant appropriation by $25.5 million.

Their testimony follows.

WAICU President Eric W. Fulcomer:

“Good afternoon, Co-Chairs Marklein and Born and members of the Committee. I am Eric Fulcomer, the new president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities or WAICU, representing our 23-member private, nonprofit institutions and their 52,000 students.

With me today is Dr. Cindy Gnadinger, president of Carroll University, and Rebecca Larson, senior vice president for advocacy at WAICU. WAICU members have an overall $7.1 billion economic impact on Wisconsin’s economy and graduate 24 percent of all the bachelor’s degrees in the state and 34 percent of all the advanced degrees, many in critical occupations without direct operating support to the taxpayers.

For example, our sector graduates 56 percent of the bachelor’s degree in nursing, 44 percent of all health-related bachelor’s degrees, and 27 percent of the engineering degrees. Our low-income students receive student financial aid in the form of Wisconsin Grants as do students in the other higher education sectors.

WAICU is requesting a $25.5 million or 30 percent increase in the Wisconsin Grant for students in the private, nonprofit sector to accommodate increased need created by the recently passed FAFSA Simplification Act and to eliminate the difference between dependent and independent student populations, as the private, nonprofit sector is the only higher education sector that is statutorily bound to treat these students differently.

The Governor’s proposed increase of five percent in Wisconsin Grants for students in our sector is inadequate to accommodate these changes for the private, nonprofit sector. Additionally, within the Midwest, only Michigan awards less state, need-based aid per student and many Midwest states are significantly investing in these programs to address workforce needs.

Wisconsin must remain competitive.”

Carroll University President Dr. Cindy Gnadinger:

“Committee members, welcome to Waukesha. Carroll University, located in the heart of Waukesha, is Wisconsin’s first, four-year institution of higher learning. Our institution was chartered in 1846—before Wisconsin became a state. A recent economic study conducted by EMSI, a leading labor market analytics firm, found that Carroll University alone contributes $340 million to Wisconsin’s economy, and we enroll approximately 3,500 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels in over 95 areas of study. Today, thousands of our former students are employed in Wisconsin, with a net impact of $276.5 million in added income.

Roughly one quarter of students at Carroll University are low-income and eligible for the Pell Grant, and greatly benefit from the state’s investment in the Wisconsin Grant, and also by the significant privately raised aid provided to them by Carroll University. The Wisconsin Grant program is a valuable public, private partnership supporting economically-disadvantaged students to put them on a path to contribute to Wisconsin’s workforce needs and to their own economic prosperity. Nearly 70 percent of Carroll University students graduate in four years, allowing them to enter the workforce more quickly and at less cost.

The modernization being sought by WAICU to the private, nonprofit Wisconsin Grants program will ensure our growing independent student population is treated fairly within our state aid program and to ensure there are enough funds to cover the increased awards due to the federal aid changes. The investment in students at private, nonprofit institutions is a significant return on investment for the State of Wisconsin given that every $1 invested by the state in Wisconsin Grants is matched with $23 in institutional aid by WAICU members. And that is true for Carroll University as well.

Lastly, Carroll University, along with other WAICU members, supports the additional funding proposed by Governor Evers for the nurse educator program. Our institution has an MSN Nurse Educator Program designed for busy nursing professionals. This is an important program to encourage more individuals to become nurse educators, which is essential to expanding nursing education, a significant constraint in the nursing pipeline.”

Rebecca Larson, WAICU senior vice president for advocacy:

“Good afternoon committee members. Included in your materials with our testimony is a letter signed by more than 150 WAICU-member trustees that are also business and community leaders throughout the state. The trustees have signed a letter in support of the $25.5 million increase to support economic opportunity for students and in support of Wisconsin’s economic prosperity. Even with this request, funding for students at private, nonprofit institutions represents just two percent of all higher education funding in the state.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our budget priorities with you today. WAICU is available to provide any additional information you need on the Wisconsin Grant program.”