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Wisconsin Grant Recipients Fill Workforce Gap

Wisconsin is experiencing work- force shortages in nearly every occupation. Most of these jobs require some form of post-secondary education, which pays off financially for degree holders and for the state’s economy.

According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, adults with a bachlor’s degree earn an average of $2.8 million during their careers, $1.2 million more than the median workers with a high school diploma.

More college degrees are obtained when we work together to make college affordable and accessible. One important step WAICU is taking is working to raise public awareness about the importance of Pell Grants and the Wisconsin Grant program for low-income and low-middle income students. State need-based financial aid programs like Wisconsin Grants are a strategic investment in the state’s future workforce.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen an alarming downward trend in the number of students attending college, especially of low-income students.

This decline results in widening the wealth gaps. In 2020-2021, 8,828 Wisconsin Grant recipients from across the state were enrolled in Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities.

In 2022-2023, the maximum Wisconsin Grant was $3,800 and the minimum was $500 for eligible Wisconsin students attending private, nonprofit colleges and universities.

To help more grant-eligible students, WAICU is recommending a $25.5 million increase over the next state biennium for Wisconsin Grants for those attending private, nonprofit institutions. The current two-year appropriation for students attending private, nonprofit institutions is just over $57 million.

WAICU’s proposed increase factors in inflation and recent federal changes in financial aid eligibility. It also is an opportunity to update and modernize the Wisconsin Grant private, nonprofit formula that has been in statutes since the 1970s. Proposed changes would make the formula more simple, transparent, and understandable for students and families interested in Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities.

The current annual Wisconsin Grant appropriation represents about 1.56 percent of state funds for all higher education. Wisconsin Grants are the primary need-based financial aid program for Wisconsin students attending private, nonprofit colleges or universities. They represent a significant return on investment for the State of Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s economic vitality.

We’ve been working with WAICU-member colleges and universities to sign up advocates for our 2,022 Advocates in 2022 Campaign to support student financial aid. If you haven’t yet, please sign up to join our advocacy efforts at

Once you sign up, you will receive information about how you can support student financial aid and student opportunity!