WAICU-member colleges and universities currently enroll more than 54,000 students. 58% of the undergraduate students are from Wisconsin.


Twenty-eight percent of Wisconsin private, nonprofit undergraduate students are students of color compared to 19 percent in the public colleges and universities. Thirty percent of all students in WAICU institutions are age 25 or over, compared to 19 percent in the UW System. Twenty-nine percent of WAICU undergraduate students are first generation.

Educational Opportunity

Students who qualify for the federal Pell Grant, those with significant financial need, at WAICU member colleges and universities constitute a higher percentage of undergraduate students, 30 percent, than at the the four- year public institutions, 23 percent. Transfer students are also welcomed. In the fall of 2020, 20 percent of the new students at Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities were transfer students.

Leveraging State Tax Dollars

WAICU member colleges and universities receive no direct operating support from state taxpayers. These Wisconsin students do qualify for student aid. Private, nonprofit higher education is a bargain for state taxpayers. Over four years, the cost to state taxpayers per degree at public institutions is $125,378 compared to only $10,041 at WAICU member institutions.

State Funding

The Wisconsin Grant is the primary state-funded need-based financial aid program for Wisconsin students attending private, nonprofit colleges or universities. The 2020-2021 Wisconsin Grant appropriation of $28.3 million represents only about 1.59 percent of funding for all of higher education.

Net Tuition/Out-of-pocket costs

The average price for undergraduate tuition and fees at WAICU member colleges or universities during 2019-2020 was $34,860. The average freshman financial aid package was $30,624, leaving net tuition costs of just $4,236. For 2019-2020, average tuition at the four-year public institutions was $8,471. Additional costs for room and board are comparable in the public and private nonprofit sectors.

Ninety-six percent of full-time degree-seeking undergraduates at private, nonprofit colleges and universities in Wisconsin receive financial aid. Ninety percent of undergraduates at WAICU institutions receive grants and scholarship, compared to 75 percent at other four-year, degree-granting, private, nonprofit institutions in the U.S. Grants, which do not have to be paid back, make up over 77 percent of the average financial aid package.

Four-Year Graduation Rates

The four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students who began and stayed at a private, nonprofit college or university is 49 percent higher than the rate for students on public campuses. This enables graduates to pay less tuition and to start earning salaries sooner.

Educational Productivity

Each year, Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit institutions produce more than 13,800 graduates, most of whom remain in Wisconsin. WAICU members grant 23 percent of Wisconsin’s bachelor’s degrees and 35 percent of the advanced degrees.

Among the bachelor’s degrees, the private nonprofit colleges and universities produce 24 percent of the business graduates, 27 percent of the engineering graduates, and 53 percent of the nursing graduates.

At the graduate level, WAICU members produce 43 percent of the business degrees, 59 percent of the physician assistant degrees, 74 percent of the nursing degrees, 60 percent of the medical doctor degrees, 45 percent of education degrees, and 100 percent of the dentistry degrees.

Personal Attention

The average class size in Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit colleges and universities is just 16 students and the student/faculty ratio is under 12:1. This personal interaction is just one reason that the majority of students graduating from private nonprofit colleges do so in four years.