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Wisconsin Covenant program rules being finalized

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Education officials are finalizing the rules for Gov. Doyle's "Wisconsin Covenant" program that would give college grants to needy students who perform well in school.

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The idea is to get more students to pursue some form of post-secondary education by having them pledge -- as early as middle school -- to take college prep classes and do community service. In return, the state would provide need-based tuition grants.

Shannon Loredo is the director of the Wisconsin Covenant Foundation. She says the program gives students a clear path of what they need to do to get into college, and it builds a community of support around the students.

Under the proposed rules, students would have to attend a Wisconsin college at least half-time, maintain at least a 'B' average, and perform 30 hours of community service. Those that do so would receive at least eight semesters worth of grants. The neediest would get $1,000 from the state, plus $1,500 from the Foundation.

Sharon Billings of Madison is with the non-profit group All Parents On Deck. She applauds the Wisconsin Covenant for what it gives students, and says if students know if they can just break the bondage of poverty and transition into a college campus, their chances of being productive citizens increase.

The legislature has set aside $25-million for the program. Once lawmakers approve the rules, administrators will immediately begin giving grants to qualified students of the 2011 high school class.

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