WAICU-member colleges and universities currently enroll more than 52,000 students. Fifty-six percent of the undergraduate students are from Wisconsin.


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

Educational Opportunity

Students who qualify for the federal Pell Grant (by definition, those with significant financial need) at WAICU-member colleges and universities constitute a higher percentage of undergraduate students, 29 percent, than at the four-year public institutions,

22 percent. Transfer students are also welcomed. In the fall of 2021, 17 percent of 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. Their 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 $126,594, compared to only $10,029 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 2021-2022 Wisconsin Grant appropriation of $28.5 million represents only about 1.52 percent of funding for all higher education.

Net Tuition/Out-of-pocket costs

The average price for undergraduate tuition and fees at WAICU-member colleges or universities during 2020-2021 was $35,317. The average freshman financial aid package was $30,549, leaving net tuition costs of just $4,767. For 2020-2021, average tuition at the four-year public institutions was $8,512. Additional costs for room and board are comparable in the public and private nonprofit sectors.

Ninety-five percent of full-time degree-seeking undergraduates at private, nonprofit colleges and universities in Wisconsin receive financial aid. Ninety-one 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 US. Grants, which do not have to be paid back, make up more than 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 42 percent higher than the rate for students on public campuses. This enables graduates to pay less tuition and start earning sooner.

Educational Productivity

Each year, Wisconsin’s private, nonprofit institutions produce more than 13,400 graduates, most of whom remain in Wisconsin. WAICU members grant 24 percent of Wisconsin’s bachelor’s degrees and 34 percent of advanced degrees.

Among bachelor’s degrees, private, nonprofit colleges and universities produce 24 percent of business graduates, 27 percent of engineering graduates, and 56 percent of nursing graduates.

At the graduate level, WAICU members produce 40 percent of business degrees, 55 percent of physician assistant degrees,

78 percent of nursing degrees, 60 percent of medical doctor degrees, 41 percent of education degrees, and 100 percent of 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.

Last update: 2/16/2023