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Chancellor's Blog: Unique Blugold Alumni Tuition Discount good for students and Wisconsin

| Chancellor James Schmidt

Today the Board of Regents unanimously approved a new Blugold Alumni Tuition Discount. This is a unique, first-of-its-kind discount specifically designed to help UW-Eau Claire students graduate in four years and keep learning after they start their careers. (Read more details here).

I’m very excited about the regents’ support for what I believe is one more important way UW-Eau Claire is demonstrating our commitment to our students and their success. We take very seriously the financial and time investment that our students make in their education. And we want to make sure they reach their educational goals, receive their Blugold degree and do so within four years.

I know that the Blugold degree is highly valuable — because I’ve talked to more than 60 CEOs in our region. They value the critical thinking and communication skills our graduates receive, in addition to the specialized knowledge those students gain through their majors. Our commitment to a liberal education prepares our graduates to be successful after graduation.

I want our students to be confident that their Blugold degree readies them for whatever future they seek. And, I know they can attain that degree within four years. Focusing on graduating in four years is important because there is an opportunity cost to students who take longer. Every extra semester or year means students are not only paying more tuition (and potentially increasing their debt), but also forfeiting the income they could be earning.

The Blugold Alumni Tuition Discount encourages students to finish their degree in four and then, if they discover they want to explore more, come back and use the alumni discount. Perhaps they discover a marketing or accounting class would help them in their career. Or they want to explore the world through another language. For five years they can continue to enrich their skills, become more competitive and stay connected with UW-Eau Claire.

A key piece of this discount is the requirement that alumni must have graduated in four years or less to participate. Right now about a third of our students do so, but we have set a goal to increase that to half of our students. And we are putting in place important support for students who want to finish in four.

Our Advising Center, currently being developed by an implementation team, will link an academic adviser to every new frosh from day one to help develop a four-year contract that assures students we will stand by to help them stay on track if they plan their degrees. We want students, especially undeclared students, to explore and find their passion. Even if students change majors, we want to find ways — taking Winterim or Summer Session classes or planning for immersion or research experiences — to complete 120 credits AND experience the full richness of a Blugold education.

In addition to personalized advising, our faculty offer invaluable mentorship for students. From providing advice on the right courses, connecting students with internships and research opportunities, and counseling on career opportunities or graduate school, faculty continue to be critical to student success. Not a week has gone by that I don’t hear from a student or colleague about the dedication of our faculty and staff. I know the commitment to our students is our singular passion. And it is that passion, along with incentives like the Blugold Alumni Tuition Discount, that will help all our students become successful, proud Blugolds.

We’re taking the lead in Wisconsin in putting our students first!

Read more Chancellor's Blog entries.