UW-La Crosse offers former students $1,000 grants to return for spring semester

The incentive matters only for students who had enrolled at UWL but decided to put their education on pause during the pandemic

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – UW-La Crosse is trying to lure some of its former students back to school with a financial incentive.

Hundreds of former UWL students who decided to stop their education temporarily during the pandemic got a letters in the mail.

And now, the university is trying to woo them back into the classroom with a $1,000 grant to return to school next semester.

“I think the return to UWL grant is just the right thing to do,” said Corey Sjoquist, assistant vice chancellor of admissions and recruitment.

The university first offered these grants last spring, Sjoquist said.

It’s restarting the program next semester.

“The $1,000 is just one way for us to help those students that had to put their education on pause,” Sjoquist said.

UWL sent letters to 400 former students during the pandemic, Sjoquist said.

So far, more than 60 of them have been admitted for the spring semester.

“So, we’re certainly encouraged by that,” Sjoquist said.

Another La Crosse campus is also trying to do its part to get students struggling financially back in class.

Using American Rescue Plan Act funds, Western Technical College is forgiving nearly $750,000 in student debt to those who couldn’t cover college expenses past March of last year.

“The financial piece is a pretty big barrier for folks for students to come and enroll,” said Wade Hackbarth, Western’s finance and operations vice president.

Students who can cover tuition can enroll in future courses.

“It really helped a lot of students be able to come back with kind of a fresh start,” Hackbarth said.

Small numbers of students are impacted.

But if you’re willing to come back, Sjoquist said UWL would be glad to accept you again.

“For those that did step away, we’re ready to help them progress toward making that degree,” Sjoquist said.

For those who are thinking about coming back to school, there is a good chance they won’t be learning virtually.

According to its website, about 91 percent of UWL’s classes are in-person right now.

Most of Western’s classes are also in-person, a school representative said.

Sjoquist says there aren’t any plans to continue the grant program past the spring semester.

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