University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank revealed “Bucky’s Tuition Promise” Thursday, a plan to cover four years of tuition costs and segregated fees for UW students whose family makes less than $56,000 per year.

Blank announced the new program at a meeting of the UW Board of Regents Thursday. Eligibility for the program is determined by a family’s adjusted gross income, a line from a family’s federal income tax return.

This gross adjusted income must be $56,000 or less — the median family income in the state of Wisconsin, according to UW. There are no other qualifying factors for eligibility.

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Blank said the goal of the program is to make a college education more affordable and attainable for middle- and low-income Wisconsinites.

“We know there’s a perception that UW-Madison is financially out of reach for some of our Wisconsin families, and we know this keeps some high school students in our state from applying here,” Blank said. “We don’t want this to be the case any longer. Going forward, we are removing the cost of tuition as a barrier for these families.”

The plan will cover four years of tuition and segregated fees for incoming UW freshmen, and two years for transfer students. The program is expected to cover 800 students and invest more than $800 thousand in eligible students, beyond what these students may already receive in aid.

Additional financing for the program will come through private donations and other institutional resources. The university is seeking additional financing for the program through its All Ways Forward campaign — a campus-wide fundraising effort for many high priority financial aid programs at UW.

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Derek Kindle, director of the UW Office of Student Aid, said the program will provide greater clarity as prospective students decide whether an education at UW is the right fit for them financially.

“Bucky’s Tuition Promise will provide parents with clarity around cost much earlier in the college-selection process,” Kindle said. “For the first time ever, we are saying to these Wisconsin families, in the clearest and most concise way possible, that if your student applies here and is accepted, we will cover the cost of tuition and fees – plain and simple.”

The university said the new program is not replacing existing financial aid commitments to in-need students, but is rather an addition to those commitments. Students who are eligible for the new program will still receive existing student loans and other financial aid through the university.

The program will begin for eligible incoming freshmen and transfer students at the start of fall semester this year.