For the City Times
Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bills 740 and 741 into law on Monday, Mar. 28, at Mid-State Technical College (Mid-State). Both bills are a part of Governor Walker’s college affordability legislative package and work to make higher education more affordable for Wisconsin families.
“One of the most important things we can do for higher education in our state moving forward is to focus on making college more affordable for our students and families,” Governor Walker said. “The bills we’re signing into law here today at Mid-State Technical College help us do that by providing additional funding for grants to technical college students and by creating emergency grants for students facing unexpected financial hardship. Looking forward, we will continue our work to keep college costs low and ease the burden of student debt.”
Assembly Bill 740 provides additional funding for Wisconsin grants to technical college students. Under current law, the Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) administers the Wisconsin grants program, which provides grants to resident postsecondary students enrolled in institutions of higher education, including technical colleges. This bill provides HEAB with an additional $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2015-2016 and $500,000 in Fiscal Year 2016-2017. This bill will provide hundreds of students with aid annually. Authored by Representative David Heaton (R – Wausau) and Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R – River Falls), the bill passed the Assembly with a vote of 61-36 and was concurred by the Senate with a vote of 19-13. It is Act 281.
Assembly Bill 741 creates a grant program for students enrolled in technical colleges and the two-year University of Wisconsin college campuses for financial emergencies. Students are eligible for a grant if the student’s expected family contribution, as determined by the federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is less than $5,000. The amount of grants awarded to a student may not exceed a total of $500 per academic year, with a limit of two grants per student per academic year. Grant funding is distributed by the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) Board to the technical colleges, and by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to the UW colleges, based on the anticipated need and demand for grants at each technical or UW college. The bill also requires each technical college and UW college to collect information on the grant program and to report this information to the WTCS Board and UW Board of Regents at the end of each academic year. The WTCS Board and UW Board of Regents must then report this information to the legislature. These types of emergency grants have proven to increase the likelihood students complete their degrees, which helps students to find employment and increases their ability to repay any student loan they may have taken out. Authored by Representative David Murphy (R – Greenville) and Senator Howard Marklein (R – Spring Green), the bill passed the Assembly with a vote of 61-36 and was concurred by the Senate with a vote of 19-13. It is Act 282.