Earlier today, University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced plans for UW-Madison to make several changes to existing policies regarding incoming students.

The changes are meant to make life easier for some groups of UW students. The new program proposes giving a free year of tuition to first-generation transfer students and updates UW-Madison contracts to ensure better academic qualifications for incoming transfer students from UW Colleges campuses.

Blank links faculty retention issues, fall in research ranking to UW System budget cutsUniversity of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank has had a tumultuous 2016. With high-profile sexual assault cases and a spike in hate Read…

The changes to the transfer contracts are smart.

UW-Madison is an excellent school and it’s important to make sure students coming here are prepared. As a transfer from UW-Whitewater and UW-Milwaukee myself, I can tell you the differences between UW-Madison and her sister schools in terms of academic difficulty and rigor is significant. The retention rate at a school this good is lower than some might hope, so hopefully taking these steps will help that number.

But where I really struggle with this new initiative is the idea of a year of free tuition for first-generation transfer students.

On the surface level, the idea of easing the burden on students and their families is a really good one.

I wish something like this could actually happen and potentially even include a larger group of students.

But this new initiative comes with a major caveat.

The release sent out by UW-Madison today reads “In addition, if UW-Madison receives sufficient new investment in the 2017-19 biennial budget, UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank is committed to guaranteeing at least one year of tuition free for first-generation Wisconsin students transferring under the new transfer agreement.”

The key word here is “if.”

Spoiler alert: UW-Madison won’t receive sufficient new investment.

Wisconsin public education is a trainwreckThe University of Wisconsin shipped out more than $23 million last year in an attempt to prevent top faculty from taking Read…

Look, I know that Gov. Scott Walker spends all of his time preaching the importance of education, but he just doesn’t back it up.

We know how big of an impact his cuts made in the last biennial budget, so what makes UW-Madison officials think they’re going to get enough money in the next one to not only fix the many financial issues plaguing the university, but also give a free year of school to a pretty substantial groups of students?

I just don’t see it happening.

Like I said, if they honestly believe they’ll have the money to make this work, that’s lovely. But based on what we’ve seen from Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature, this just isn’t a practical idea.