Banker offers free 2-year tuition to every senior at Wisconsin high school
LUCK, Wis. — Students at a northern Wisconsin high school got a huge surprise on their first day of school: An area businessman offered to pay for every graduating senior to attend a two-year technical college.
Luck High School principal Brad Werner announced the offer on Tuesday at the school’s welcome back assembly in the school gym. The school’s 34 seniors were sitting in the front.
“It was a fun experience for me to share this experience with the seniors and watch their faces and their eyeballs get big,” he said.
It was almost as big a shock for Werner.
He said Dennis Frandsen, who owns companies around the region and one of Luck’s two banks, called last month and asked to meet with Werner and the school superintendent.
Werner said Frandsen’s bank has been very supportive of the school in the six years he has been the principal, but they’d never met.
“He just showed up and set the offer on the table for us. It’s almost mind boggling to think that that’s just come through, out of the blue, and is an opportunity for our kids,” Werner said. “It’s a little bit hard to wrap your mind around.”
Frandsen was born on a dairy farm outside Luck and started his first business there in 1951, according to his company website.
He wanted to give back to the community by giving all 2019 graduates who attend a technical school a full two-year scholarship that will cover tuition and books.
“It’s an opportunity for everybody who graduates,” Werner said. “He said he’s fine with it being one student or all students. If they all take advantage of it, that’s fine, too.”
About 85% of Luck graduates go to college, vocational school or some sort of apprenticeship into a trade, Werner said.
Frendsen made the offer to vocational college students because there are already a lot of scholarship opportunities for students headed to four-year schools, Werner said. There is also a shortage of skilled workers like electricians and plumbers.
There will be a parent meeting next month to explain the details, but Werner said he’s already hearing from students who didn’t think they would have options for more schooling after high school.
“I’m sure that regardless of a family’s situation it’s going to be quite a relief for some of them to think ‘Wow, we can make this work and we don’t have to think quite as hard about it anymore,'” Werner said.
This isn’t the first time Frendsen has done something like this.
He is also paying for seniors at Rush City High School, near his company headquarters in Minnesota, to attend Pine City Technical and Community College.
Frandsen was not available for comment, but he told KARE that he has started the Frandsen Family Foundation to pay college tuition for students in small towns.
Luck High School runs from grade 7-12 and Werner said the scholarship offer has also motivated underclassmen to buckle down in case they get a similar opportunity.
“It’s a unique boost to our student body as a whole, not just our senior class,” he said.
He said it’s been a great way to start the year and that morale is high with students and faculty.