Hundreds of college students at ten public and private colleges and universities across Wisconsin are receiving grants of $1,000 per year for up to five years as part of an experimental study. After three academic years, over $2 million in scholarships has been awarded.

According to the U.S. Department of Education

48% of
Bachelor's Degree
Students

69% of
Associate's Degree
Students

Enter STEM fields and leave college without a degree or certificate in a STEM field.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Wisconsin HOPE Lab (Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education) aim to determine how financial aid affects the academic pathways of undergraduate students, particularly those pursuing STEM degrees. Specifically, the study is exploring whether providing undergraduates from moderate- and low-income families with more grant aid can enable them to maintain their commitment to STEM majors—and graduate with degrees in those fields at higher rates than those students who don't receive extra aid.

Preliminary findings in this white paper indicate that students from low-income households who were offered additional need-based financial aid were 7.87 percentage points more likely to declare a STEM major than similar peers, representing a 42% increase.

This National Science Foundation–funded study is timely, as national debates continue over the future of need-based financial aid and its efficacy. We hope that the study's findings will influence future policy decisions. In the meantime, we're excited about the additional financial assistance students will receive, and hope it brings them greater success.