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Milwaukee Public Schools, MATC Partner To Minimize Economic Burden Of College

MATC Promise Offers Qualified Students Free Tuition To Attend Tech School

Milwaukee Area Technical College sign
MATC hosted a press conference on Oct. 9, 2019 to dicuss the importance of students applying for FAFSA and the MATC Promise. Alana Watson/WPR

Milwaukee Public Schools and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) are partnering together to help unlock financial access to college.

During a press conference Wednesday on MATC’s campus, academic leaders gathered to highlight the impact of the MATC Promise. They also discussed the importance of students applying for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which gives college students access to federal financial aid. The MATC Promise is a program that offers qualified students free tuition to attend MATC.

Laura Bray, vice president of college advancement and external communications at MATC, said the college started the program in 2015 to minimize the financial burden placed on families with children hoping to attend college.

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“Research consistently tells us that higher education is the path for (students) to achieve a family, sustain an income and their dreams, their career dreams, their dreams of a better future,” Bray said.

According to an MPS district fact sheet, 82.5 percent of Milwaukee Public Schools’ 75,081 students in the 2018-2019 school year were economically disadvantaged.

The MATC Promise looks to assist those students by offering up to 75 free credits at MATC, though they still encourage students to apply for FAFSA.

“In my role, I am fortunate to hear directly from students who have had so many doors in their lives closed and often they say the Promise helped open the door to higher education that they thought was never possible for themselves,” Bray said.

Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Keith Posley also attended the press conference and said 56 MPS students have graduated through the program. He also said all high school seniors should be completing FAFSA and encouraged parents to help their students apply.

“Your students needs your support,” Posley said. “To make sure they complete this item because this is the only way children can receive access to financial support, including loans and grants.”

Andrea Atkins, a single mother of seven, said that FAFSA made it possible for all of her children to go to college. Five of them have already graduated and two are still pursuing their degrees.

“Parent support and engagement is very critical in the FAFSA process and without the parent support it can’t happen,” Atkins said.

Atkins had tears in her eyes as she told her story of getting all of her children through school.

“This is an example of unity between home and school. My children and I hold eight higher education degrees,” she said.

The deadline for eligible students interested in the MATC Promise is in February. The deadline for students to apply for the 2020-2021 FAFSA is Feb. 7, 2020.