Wisconsin Student Loans

College Student in LibraryWisconsin may be synonymous with cheese for many, the state is also home to many public and private institutions of higher learning.

Public Options

The University of Wisconsin System is a network of public schools across 26 campuses that educate approximately 180,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Within this system, UW colleges include 13 community colleges that award students a two-year Associate of Arts and Science Degree (AASD). There are six UW colleges where students can earn a four-year degree, the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS). Students can either get their start in a two-year UW college and then transfer to a four-year campus, or start directly on a four-year campus.

To provide some insight into the high quality of the public colleges and universities, according to the 2017 University Web Ranking, three out of the top five undergraduate schools in the state are within the University of Wisconsin System. The top five undergraduate schools are:

Private Options

Girl and father discussing student loansAccording to Wisconsin’s Private Colleges, there are 26 private colleges and universities located in the state. Madison, the capital, is home to Edgewood College. Although not the state capital, Milwaukee would seem to be the capital of private schools in the state. There are eight private institutions in Milwaukee, and it is therefore home to nearly one-third of all private schools in the state. The Medical College of Wisconsin does not offer undergraduate study.

For undergraduate students interested in matriculating in a private college or university in Milwaukee, the following seven institutions fit the bill:

School Stats

Whether a student is an in-state resident or non-resident, there are so many schools from which to choose. One factor that is important to many prospective students is the size of the school. If a student is looking for a large campus, according to College Stats, the following five Wisconsin schools have the largest student bodies:

The college selection process invariably involves finding schools that considered either a reach or safe. For this reason, it is important for students who are interested in Wisconsin schools, both public and private, know the average acceptance rates. According to the U.S. News, the following schools are among the hardest from which to get that much wanted acceptable letter:

In general, there is a large difference in the cost of education between a private college or university and a public one. For instance, a student at Marquette University can expect to pay $46,378 for one academic year of study, and this includes associated costs, like housing. Compare this price tag to that of schools in the University of Wisconsin System.

For example, in the 2015-2016 academic year of study at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, an in-state resident will pay $8,798 while a non-resident would be assessed $16,370. Just think about it – the price one student pays to attend Marquette University is equivalent to five students at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This example demonstrates that in-state tuition at a Wisconsin school is going to be just about the best deal out there for Wisconsin residents.

Wisconsin is unique in that it participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program (MSEP). This program provides a lower rate of tuition than non-resident rates for students who are residents of certain states. To learn if your state participates in the program, and if you qualify, contact the school of interest directly.

Residency and Tuition Rates

Unlike public colleges and universities, private colleges do not differentiate tuition costs based on state residency status. For this reason, students who seek to go to college outside of their home state may find that public schools in other states are just as costly as private colleges across the nation. To make the most informed decision about which colleges to apply to, Wisconsin residents are best advised to compare the costs of private schools, out-of-state public schools, and local schools of interest. It is important to note that University of Wisconsin System schools vary in tuition and associated costs but not by too much.

To illustrate, in the 2014-2015 academic year, a Wisconsin student who opted for a two-year UW College, such as the University of Wisconsin, Marinette would pay $2,375.16 per semester for full-time study (reflects tuition only). The school would also be an affordable option for a non-resident as the rate is $5,867.04 per semester of full-time study (tuition only). Note that residents of Michigan and residents of states that participate in the MSEP may qualify for a lower rate of tuition than non-residents. Michigan residents and MSEP residents should inquire with each school of interest, within the University of Wisconsin system, to learn more.

Wisconsin residents and non-residents who are interested in attending a four-year public college may likely be persuaded in part by the affordable cost of attendance. For example, in the spring of 2015, at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee residents with a full course load of 12-18 credits per semester were assessed $4,695.41 for tuition only. Non-residents within these same parameters were charged $9,559.61 per semester, and these fees include the school’s segregated fees. Qualifying students with Michigan residency or MSEP status were assessed lower tuition fees than non-residents.


Borrowing Student Loans

Guy studyingFor all students who are seeking financial aid, the process starts the same way: students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Those schools that offer a student admission rely on the FAFSA to create a financial aid package. As a rule of thumb, schools will first consider a student for all forms of free aid, such as federal grants, state grants, and scholarships before offering federal loans. The school’s last resort is to recommend private student loans from a private bank.The federal government is a main lender within the student loan rubric. The majority of that lending occurs under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. This loan program offers both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. In the case of subsidized loans, the more favorable of the two types, the federal government pays the interest that capitalizes on the student loan during certain periods, such as while the student is in school or if he experiences a financial hardship while in repayment. The Direct Loan Program also offers loans to qualifying parents of undergraduate students. Known as PLUS Loans, this product is based on criteria such as the parent’s creditworthiness. Although PLUS Loans offer competitive rates, parent borrowers are encouraged to research whether any private lenders offer even better terms. The other main source of student loan lending is private banks. It is important to understand that schools do not require borrowers to work with any specific lender. However, the school is usually involved in the certification process and will not sign off on an amount that exceeds the student’s need. In other words, private loans are intended to cover costs that financial aid does not cover. It’s actually a good thing that this rule is in place because excessive borrowing now will only lead to excessive debt later. Most schools will provide students with a list of lenders that have a good history with the school’s student body. Students may think that states offer student loans, but in general, this is not the case. The state of Wisconsin does not have a student lending program. However, most students will find that the federal government and private banks meet their needs when it comes to funding higher education.