KATHLEEN VINEHOUT
PEOPLE FIRST

Vinehout Challenges Evers on Free Tuition for Tech and 2-year UW Schools

This morning Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) reacted to Superintendent Evers announcement last night that he would not support free tuition for Wisconsin residents attending technical college and two-year UW campuses.

“I woke up this morning profoundly disappointed in State Superintendent Evers,” said Senator Vinehout. “Last night, he was the one candidate on-stage who did not raise his hand in support of free two-year and tech college tuition. He later gave his reasoning: these kids need ‘skin in the game.’”

“When I was a kid growing up, my family was poor. My dad dug ditches; my mom took care of five kids and suffered from cancer. It was pretty clear where we stood on the social ladder. My dad refused to sign my financial aid papers. He thought college would be wasted on a girl,” Vinehout said.

“When I first introduced legislation in 2013, to make tuition free at two-year and technical colleges, my goal was to make sure no one would have to go through what I went through in order to get access to higher education.”

In 2017, Vinehout expanded the plan, calling it “Freedom to Learn”. It included all Wisconsin residents: those just out of high school, those with families, and those working full-time. As such, it was the broadest measure of its type in the nation.

“Freedom to Learn, allows students to learn at their own pace and choose their own course of study. The Freedom to Learn Act is a “last dollar” program. Students are required to apply for and receive all other eligible federal and state aid. State funds then pay the remaining balance to fully support the program,” said Vinehout.

“I didn’t attach many strings because I believe the people who need this program already have enough ‘skin in the game.’ Many of the people who attend 2-year and tech colleges already work a job or two, have families, have to pay the high costs of health-insurance, or have to deal with parents who don’t believe in them enough to sign their financial aid papers.

“These people are the reason I authored that bill. They’re the ones that State Superintendent Evers let down last night.”

The cost of  Vinehout’s ‘Freedom to Learn’ plan is $126 million dollars. Vinehout fully funds the program in her alternative budget.