Students & Families

FFWS provides need-based grants to randomly selected, recent graduates of Wisconsin public high schools who are starting their first year of attendance at a UW four year institution to earn an undergraduate baccalaureate degree. Grants are gifted aid; they do not have to be repaid. Grants are available in the fall, spring and summer semesters for all eligible FFWS scholars.

There is no application process; eligibility is determined using data from the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Once a list of eligible students is provided to the University of Wisconsin System Offices, recipients are randomly selected to receive the grant.

To be initially eligible, one must:

  • be a resident of Wisconsin for resident tuition purposes
  • have been a full-time, resident student in a Wisconsin public school for the last four semesters prior to graduation
  • have received a Wisconsin public high school diploma or HSED within the past three years
  • be under the age of 21 years on the 1st of September of the year of initial eligibility
  • either:
    • be in the first year of post secondary studies at a UW System four year comprehensive university based in Wisconsin or
    • be transferring directly to a UW University from any of the WTCS or UW Branch Campuses, which is the only post-secondary school attended, with at least 24 successful credits at that institution and accepted by the UW University
  • be enrolled full time, in person, and on-site in a baccalaureate residential degree program (and not an online degree program) at a UW University
  • be a PELL recipient at initial eligibility
  • have remaining unmet financial need

Students may continue to receive FFWS grants for up to 8 – 10 semesters* if:

  • student’s enrollment in a residential degree program at either a UW four year university or a UW Branch campus/WTCS college is full time, continuous, in person and on-site (a minimum of 7 credits must be taken in person each fall and spring semester)
  • adequate academic progress is being made toward degree completion
  • student’s school continues to follow the grant process
  • FAFSA is completed each year
  • student has remaining unmet financial need

The FFWS grant ends when a baccalaureate degree is completed.

*if, after enrollment in a UW University, a student later takes all courses at, or transfers to, a WTCS or a UW two-year branch campus, FFWS grant eligibility at such school is limited to six semesters.

Grant Timeline

University of Wisconsin (UW) four year campuses identify students who meet FFWS eligibility criteria.

End of September
Grant recipients are randomly selected at UWSA

End of September/Early October
Notification to students and campuses indicating selection

Students reply to FFWS and accept grant

End of October – Early November
FFWS notifies school of students’ grant status.  Campus Financial aid officers confirm student eligibility and request money, FFWS sends money to schools for students. Schools post FFWS grant to the student’s financial aid account.

Helpful Resources

Higher Education Aids Board


Universities of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Technical College System

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

UW Higher Education Location Program (UW HELP)


How Do I Pay for College? – The New York Times (

What Our Recipients Are Saying

FFWS Graduate Stories:

Matthew Fischer, UW-River Falls

Scholar Quotes:

“Without this grant, honestly I don’t know if I’d be in school right now. So it is a blessing, and I am forever grateful.”

“Seeing the scholarship come through, I was in tears. Especially with my [mom], because I’m also a low-income student. I had to fight my way into school and have to work and I really wanted to just focus on my academics while I was in school. I didn’t want to get distracted. But it came, so now I don’t have to work.”

“Your initial thought is this is a scam, like this isn’t real. But once it hits and you realize it is real, it’s amazing.”

“Thank you because less than a year ago I didn’t even think I was going to go to college.”

“This scholarship was definitely the best thing that [I got for] financial aid.”

“Thank you so much for this opportunity because [without it] I wouldn’t be in college.”

“Just want to say thank you for everything. Just yeah, since I’m a first year it would be kind of hard to start out at the beginning but with the help of my family and my siblings I think it’s been really good.”

“My biggest challenge is probably just being a first generation student, because a lot of the things that you run into in college your family won’t understand if they haven’t been through college themselves, and through the support system that I’ve found at UW Milwaukee, that’s been I think my biggest thing that has helped me get past that.

My Mom and my grandparents have been very proud of me and very encouraging. Although they don’t understand everything, they do their best to support me.

This scholarship was definitely the best thing that I’ve gotten from anything in financial aid. I got it after I took out all of my loans for school, but after finding out that I would get this scholarship and it was a recurring scholarship at that, so I have it through my whole time, and I can take possibly a fifth year to graduate if I really need to. So I can get as much out of my undergraduate degree that I can. So, it’s been a really big thing for me. And it covers about half of the tuition here, which is amazing.”

“I didn’t have any money and some kid asked me, ‘Oh, how much have your parents saved for college?’ Well, he said a phrase and I was like, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘You don’t have a college fund?’ Oh yeah, that’s the one he said. I’m like, ‘What’s a college fund?’ He’s like, ‘Your parents didn’t save?’ I’m like, ‘I don’t even have a dad.’ So it’s like I’m not going to go to college, I’m probably going to be a failure and work at McDonald’s all my life, but I got money from them and I’m debt free so far. I don’t want to be in debt when I get out of college because I don’t want to owe money to nobody. So it’s pretty nice, thank you so much for this opportunity because otherwise I wouldn’t even be in college, so yeah.”

What advice do you give to people who are just starting?

“I think my best advice is that they should keep going and never give up. I know I struggled a lot my first year here at UWM just because I was not that involved in a lot of activities, it was a hard time for me to make friends. I was just stressed, I was very like, thinking that I wasn’t going to make it into the nursing program because it’s very competitive and I thought I wasn’t able, I didn’t have the capability to be there but…”

“The biggest thing or, the biggest piece of advice I have for anyone, that is just going in to school. School’s obviously difficult, but you gotta break it down. So, by that I mean you gotta get to know your instructors, and know what they want. And once you do that, you’ll find it way easier.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to look dumb. It’s not bad, or it’s okay to be wrong. That’s pretty much it, honestly. Have a lot of self-humility, and that is what will help you succeed, that is what will give you character. Like I said, it’s okay to be wrong, it’s okay to look silly, because that’s how you learn, and you develop character.”

So what was your turning point?

“Ever since my sophomore year here I started to realize that the more you try, the better it will be and never giving up, it’s like my biggest thing. Yeah like I have a lot, I had a lot of rough patches, but the more I keep going the better it is. Just learn from, I see it as a learning experience where I can learn to be better.”

“Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.”

How do you do that?

“Reach out or attend events. Put yourself in a situation where you can meet new people.”

Just show up?

“Yeah. Do something new and then you’ll meet new people.

Yeah. I would say ‘Things will be scary and things will be tough, but you’ll overcome things and don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and do it early.’ I think I waited too long to get involved, and now that I’m graduating, I’m like, ‘Ah, I wish I would have done some of these things sooner.’ I think the biggest piece of advice is it’s gonna be uncomfortable and I think just embracing that and trying to get out of your comfort zone as soon as you can will be great.”

So how do you get people to get out of their comfort zone?

“That’s a good question. I think it has to come internally. For me, it was I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to do or I was … Being in Milwaukee was a new experience for me, so I was like okay, I really just wanted to get to know the city, or try to find out more about UWM and Milwaukee, so I just got involved through an alternative spring break program that our Center for Community Based Learning hosts, and so through that I actually got to meet 30 new freshmen that were also passionate about getting involved in the community. I still see them on campus today and say hi to them when we walk by, ’cause we were able to share this experience together.

Yeah, I think, know that everyone in the room doesn’t know anyone, and they’re all as nervous as you are. Knowing that by you walking into this, the whole group that’s there also feels the same way. Go and talk to people, that’s all you can really do.”

“I would say to get involved and really don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Start looking and meeting new people and trying to network. It makes things so much easier.

Don’t be afraid to go out and do something new that you’ve never done before. College is something where you’re starting, it’s like a brand new chapter of your life and you can’t be afraid to do anything. You have to go out and try something new because you never know what it’s going to do for your life and where you’re going to go with it.”