If there is one thing the state of Wisconsin is known for across the country its this:  cheese. In fact, cheese is the state’s official dairy product and “America’s Dairyland” even appears on the state’s license plate.

Wisconsin is more than just cheese and other dairy products, believe it or not. There are many great colleges and universities nestled within its nearly 65,500 sq. miles of area. With those postsecondary institutions also comes awesome financial aid programs to help its residents afford to attend in-state colleges.

Some of those financial aid programs managed and administered by Wisconsin’s Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) include the Academic Excellence Scholarship, the Technical Excellence Scholarship, the Wisconsin Grants, the Talent Incentive Program Grant and the Indian Student Assistance Grant.

Academic Excellence Scholarship

The Academic Excellence Scholarship (AES) is a merit-based award based on the final GPA of graduating high school students. It is awarded to the graduating high school senior with the highest GPA in the class in each public or private Wisconsin high school. The number of available scholarships each high school receives is based on the school’s total student enrollment of grades 9-12.

To be eligible for the AES, a student must:

  • Be a Wisconsin resident;
  • Be graduating from a public or private Wisconsin high school;
  • Receive the highest GPA in the student’s graduating class;
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student at an eligible University of Wisconsin school, a Wisconsin technical college, an independent Wisconsin college or university, or a Wisconsin Tribal College by September 30 of the academic year immediately following the student’s high school graduation; and
  • Maintain full-time, continuous enrollment from term-to-term during the student’s higher education career.

There is no formal application to submit for the AES. The eligible student’s high school will notify the HEAB of the student’s eligibility based upon the student’s final GPA.

Obviously, the AES is renewable and a student can receive funding for up to eight semesters (or four-full academic years). An eligible student can receive $2,250 per academic year and the funds can be used to cover tuition.

Technical Excellence Scholarship

The Technical Excellence Scholarship (TES) is a merit-based award given to graduating high school seniors who demonstrated the highest level of proficiency in technical education subjects.

To be eligible for the TES, a student must:

  • Be a Wisconsin resident;
  • Be graduating from a public or private Wisconsin high school;
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student and attend an eligible Wisconsin technical college;
  • Maintain full-time, continuous enrollment from term-to-term during the student’s higher education career; and
  • Meet one or more of the following:
    • Hold a technical skills assessments and certification (TSAs) offered by a Wisconsin agency;
    • Participate in a Youth Apprenticeship Program under the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD)’s supervision;
    • Participate in a Technical High School Diploma Program certified by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI);
    • Participate in a technical training program for high school students if the program is offered by a University of Wisconsin school, a Wisconsin technical college, a Wisconsin Tribal College or a Wisconsin private non-profit college or university; and/or
    • Participate in a recognized training program for high school students offered by a professional group, industry group or union.

There is no formal application for the award as the student’s high school will nominate and designate the student for the award based on the HEAB criteria. On the other hand, if a student has not been nominated or designated, a student can fill out a Request for Consideration form and submit it to their high school for consideration.

The TES is a renewable award and can be received for up to six semesters (or three-full academic years). A recipient can receive $2,250 per academic year from the award and the funds are used to cover tuition.

Wisconsin Grant and Wisconsin Grant – Private Non-Profit

Wisconsin Grant

The Wisconsin Grant is a need-based grant that assists undergraduate students attending a University of Wisconsin school, a Wisconsin technical college or a Wisconsin Tribal College.

To be eligible for the Wisconsin Grant, a student must:

  • Be a Wisconsin resident;
  • Have earned a high school diploma, GED or equivalent;
  • Be an undergraduate student;
  • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA);
  • Be enrolled at least as a half-time student in a degree or certificate program; and
  • Be enrolled at an eligible University of Wisconsin school, a Wisconsin technical college or a Wisconsin Tribal College.

A student just needs to complete and submit FAFSA to apply for the award. The award is renewable and can be received for up to ten semesters (or five-full academic years) as long as a student submits FAFSA annually.

The Wisconsin Grant award amounts are set annually by the HEAB, though the minimum award will never be less than $250. The maximum award is currently up to $3,150.

Wisconsin Grant – Private Non-Profit

The Wisconsin Grant – Private Non-Profit is a need-based award and it is essentially the same as the Wisconsin Grant, except it is for undergraduate students attending non-profit, independent Wisconsin colleges and universities.

All of the eligibility requirements are the same as the Wisconsin grant, except for the fact that a student must attend a non-profit, independent Wisconsin college or university.

This grant is also renewable via FAFSA annually and it can also be received for up to ten semesters (or five-full academic years). The HEAB also sets the award amounts annually and the minimum will never be less than $250.

Talent Incentive Program Grant

The Talent Incentive Program Grant (TIP) is a need-based award designed to help the most-financially needy and educationally disadvantaged Wisconsin residents attending any in-state postsecondary institution.

To be eligible for the TIP, a student must:

  • Be a Wisconsin resident;
  • Have earned a high school diploma, GED or equivalent;
  • Demonstrate a financial need for funding by completing and submitting FAFSA;
  • Be enrolled in any Wisconsin postsecondary institution, though for-profit schools are ineligible;
  • Be enrolled at least as a half-time student; and
  • Be nominated by the student’s school’s financial aid office or a Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Programs (WEOP) counselor if the student is a first-time freshman.

To apply for the grant, a student simply needs to file FAFSA and receive a nomination if the student is a first-time freshman. The grant is renewable as long as the student continues to demonstrate a financial need for funding once they file FAFSA annually. Students can receive funding for up to ten semesters (or five-full academic years).

As a first-time freshman, a student can receive between $600 to $1,800 from the grant. As a continuing student, a student can receive a minimum of $250 and a maximum of $1,800.

Indian Student Assistance Grant

The Indian Student Assistance Grant (ISAG) is a need-based award designed to assist Native American undergraduate and graduate students afford to attend any Wisconsin postsecondary institution.

To be eligible for the ISAG, a student must:

  • Be a Wisconsin resident;
  • Have earned a high school diploma, GED or equivalent;
  • Be at least 25% Native American;
  • Be an undergraduate or graduate student;
  • Be attending any Wisconsin postsecondary institution;
  • Be enrolled in a degree or certificate program at the student’s school;
  • Be enrolled at least as a part-time student (which is less than a half-time student);
  • Complete and file FAFSA; and
  • Complete and submit the ISAG New Student Application or the ISAG Continuing Student Application.

Filing FAFSA and submitting either ISAG student application is how a student applies for the ISAG. Obviously, the grant is renewable and funds can be received from it for up to ten semesters (or five-full academic years).

A student can receive between $250 to $1,100 per academic year from the grant as well.

Major Wisconsin Colleges and Universities

The Badger State is home to many great types of postsecondary institutions. In fact, there are 17 public technical and community colleges in the state. Some of the other major and popular colleges and universities in the state include:

  • Carthage College in Kenosha (private)
  • Edgewood College in Madison (private),
  • Marquette University in Milwaukee (private),
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee (private), and
  • The University of Wisconsin System of Schools (public):
    • Eau Claire,
    • Green Bay,
    • La Crosse,
    • Madison (main campus)
    • Milwaukee,
    • Oshkosh,
    • Parkside in Kenosha,
    • Platteville,
    • River Falls,
    • Stevens Point,
    • Stout in Menomonie,
    • Superior, and
    • Whitewater.

Wisconsin residents should be thrilled to know that their state provides them with many opportunities to receive a higher education and that is all due to the amount of postsecondary institutions in the state and its great college financial aid programs.