Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin Assembly proposal would disallow considerations of race in student financial aid

Proposal targets nine minority-centered higher education programs
Cat Carroll

Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly introduced a bill proposal Oct. 24 that would disallow the Higher Education Aids Board, the Universities of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Technical Colleges from considering race when granting some forms of financial aid, according to the Wisconsin State Legislature. The bill was up for a public hearing Oct. 26, according to the Wisconsin Legislature.

Co-sponsor of the proposal Sen. Eric Wimberger (R-Green Bay) said racial preferences in financial aid programs is a bigoted practice and should be eliminated from society, according to a testimonial statement.

“Concepts of race-based awards have back loaded in them bigoted premises we should purge from our culture if we are to aim for a society that does not judge people based on skin color,” Wimberger said.


The proposal targets HEAB’s Minority Teacher Loan Program and Minority Undergraduate Retention Grant, the University of Wisconsin’s Lawton Undergraduate Minority Retention Grant and Advanced Opportunity Program, according to the testimonial document.

The proposal also aims to modify Wisconsin Statute 39.15, which requires the Medical College of Wisconsin to ensure 5% of students enrolled are of minority groups and Wisconsin Statute 39.46, which requires the same of MCW’s dental school, according to the testimonial document.

Finally, the proposal would also modify Wisconsin Statutes 38.04, requiring that Wisconsin Technical Colleges develop an annual plan to retain minority students, 38.26, requiring that WTCs create minority-specific student programs and 38.27, requiring that WTCs create incentive grants, which the authors of the proposal believe “cater specifically to minority students,” according to the testimonial document.

Grant awarded to DHS to improve 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

There is a large gap between the number of minority students versus teachers in Wisconsin public schools, according to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report. In 2019, minority students made up 57.4% of Wisconsin public schools, whereas minority teachers made up 13.1% of Wisconsin public school teachers, according to the report.

Students participating in MTLP agree to teach full-time at secondary, tribal or elementary schools in which 40% of the student body are minorities, according to the HEAB report. In exchange, 25% of the student’s loan are forgiven for every year they teach, according to the HEAB report.

In 2019-2020, MTLP dispersed $136,000 across 16 awards and $152,000 across 17 awards in 2020-2021, according to the HEAB report.

MTLP helps the government ensure certain schools stay staffed, Rep. LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee) said.

“We will give you this opportunity and help offset the cost but in turn, we are getting started in some of our hardest-to-stay-at-school districts, which is a necessity because those districts will always be hard to staff,” Myers said.

Wisconsin Democrats hold fundraising event in Madison

The bill proposal comes just four months after the June 2023 U.S. Supreme Court decided to strike down affirmative action in higher education thus ending race-conscious admission processes, according to previous reporting from The Badger Herald.

Nowhere in the constitution does it say financial aid programs are required to consider race, but nor does the constitution explicitly require that considerations of race do not occur, UW political science professor Howard Schweber said.

“One of the questions that was left open after that decision is how does the ruling apply in contexts other than college admissions,” Schweber said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that this is legally permissible, the proposal’s ban on racial preferences. But it is unclear whether it might actually be constitutionally required.”

Schweber also commented on changes that would be made to minority retention aid programs. It is unclear whether there is a legal difference between providing financial aid to prospective minority students versus already admitted minority students, Schweber said.

There are two arguments, Schweber said. There is either no difference because both scenarios involve providing an advantage to students based on their race or there is a difference because college admissions can be separated from efforts imposed to help students succeed, Schweber said.

“When it comes to helping students succeed,” Schweber said. “You have to meet students where they are and help them in the ways that they need.”

In 2020-2021 the Minority Retention Grant dispensed $386,125 across 233 awards in independent and tribal colleges, according to the HEAB report. Further, MRG dispensed $431,418 across 486 awards in the Wisconsin Technical College System in the same year.

Additionally, in 2021-2022, 36.87% of 792 Wisconsin MRG students completed a degree or certificate and 41.29% successfully continued their path toward completion, according to a HEAB report.

‘When we fight we win’: Workers, community members gather in solidarity with local labor unions

This proposal would replace all minority race requirements with the requirement that selected students are financially disadvantaged, according to the bill. Which students are considered financially disadvantaged will be up to the discretion of the bodies granting aid, Rep. Rettinger (R-Mukwonago) said in a testimonial statement.

If the proposal were adopted, Wisconsin could possibly experience a less diversified workplace in the future, Myers said.

“The point of these programs [Minority Financial Aid] is to make sure that we have a diversified workforce,” Myers said. “That was the point of this program. So if students just have to be disadvantaged that does not get you the same people that you might have gotten when you still had race attached to it [Financial Aid Programs].”

Increasing the number of minority teachers in Wisconsin was designated as one of HEAB’s major objectives for the 2021-2023 biennium, according to a HEAB report. The acceptance of the bill proposal would result in fewer minority teachers working in Wisconsin, according to Myers.

The Wisconsin State Assembly can expect to vote on the proposal in November or December of 2023, Myers said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *