Wisconsin high school students who earn a ‘B' average and promise to be good citizens could be eligible for grants between $250 and $2,500 during their first two years of college, Gov. Jim Doyle announced Monday.
But the proposal is contingent on at least one major hurdle: It will be up to Doyle's successor to seek funding for the governor's signature college access program — known as the Wisconsin Covenant — and the next Legislature to appropriate that money.
Doyle's term ends at the end of this year, before the first class of Wisconsin Covenant scholars is set to begin college in the fall of 2011.
The Wisconsin Covenant is Doyle's effort to increase college enrollment by making a compact with students in the state. If they maintain a ‘B' average or better in high school, practice good citizenship and complete college requirements, they will be guaranteed a place in a Wisconsin college or university and given some financial aid.
The rules released Monday would give three levels of grant money to Covenant students for each of their first four semesters: $2,500 for the neediest students; $1,000 to $1,500 for students whose families have higher incomes but still qualify for assistance; and $250 for students whose families do not qualify for financial aid.
Those figures will be adjusted in the student's third and fourth years.
That money would be given to students on top of other federal and state aid, like the federal Pell grant and the state Wisconsin Higher Education Grant. For low-income students, "this amount more than covers the cost of tuition and fees on a Wisconsin campus," Doyle said.
University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly also promised to help Covenant scholars, by providing them with financial aid counseling, advising, and considering their status as a Covenant scholar in admissions.
But there's no guarantee that the next administration will maintain funding for the program. The state Legislature created a $25 million annual appropriation for it in the state budget, but since there are no scholars yet, that money is serving as a placeholder for future Covenant students.
More than 50,000 students have signed the Covenant pledge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.