University of Wisconsin–Madison

Your Family

The Parent and Family Program recognizes that UW–Madison families are as diverse as our students. Below we provide specific resources for families of students from a variety of backgrounds, including first-year students, transfer students, first-generation college students, out-of-state students, and recent graduates. Whether your family identifies with one or multiple of these categories, we hope this information is helpful to you and your student.

Have a question? Ask us!

Aerial view of the Lake Mendota shoreline near campus.

Graduating Families

A graduation cap displaying a personal message of "thanks mom and dad."

Thank you for all you have done to support your student during their time at UW–Madison. Graduation is an accomplishment, both for a student and for a family. Your student has worked very hard to earn a degree, and your support was integral to your their success.

Chancellor Blank: Join Us for Spring Commencement 2019

We look forward to celebrating with you at commencement this spring. Chancellor Rebecca Blank shares information to help you prepare for the ceremony.

Farewell, and Thank You

On behalf of the UW Parent and Family Program, we want to thank you for all you have done to support your student, and share advice for the journey ahead.

Tips: Health Coverage for New Graduates

Health insurance is a significant consideration for graduating students, whose situations will vary depending on current coverage and job opportunities. University Health Services shares tips for navigating this process.

Stay Connected

Along with your student, we want to welcome you to the Badger alumni family. We hope you’ll stay in touch! There are many ways you can stay connected to campus and the community.

Diploma Information

The UW Office of the Registrar offers information on where and when students can expect their official diplomas to be mailed, and how to get a certified electronic diploma.

Graduation Checklist

Help your student stay on track for a successful, seamless graduation process with this guide.

First-Year Families

Students outside University Health Services, located in University Square complex and Student Services Tower at 333 East Campus Mall.

The transition from high school to college is an important milestone in the life of your student. While every student is different, we offer advice and conversation starters to help you anticipate things that your student may experience and provide the tools for you to provide support through this transition. The following resources may also be helpful to you as your new student begins to navigate college life.

Welcome Newsletter (PDF)

The Badger Parent Welcome print newsletter is mailed to all registered families of incoming students and posted online. It provides an introduction to the Parent and Family Program and information on orientation, college finances, and how your family can stay connected to your student and the Madison community.

Badger Parent E-Newsletter

The Badger Parent e-newsletter is emailed five times per year (twice per semester and once over the summer) to registered families of UW students as well as subscribers. The e-newsletter provides important and timely campus information, including news items, year-by-year conversation starters, and handy tips and resources to help you encourage your student’s success.

Center for the First-Year Experience

The Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) office offers a variety of programs designed to help freshmen and new transfer students make the transition to UW–Madison. Formal programming includes Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR), Wisconsin Welcome (start-of-semester events and involvement opportunities), and the Transfer Transition Program.

What to Bring to Campus

The first year of college is often the first time your student will experience living away from home or sharing a room. Although what students choose to bring often comes down to personal preference, we have outlined some suggestions for what to bring to campus. Keep in mind that after moving in, students can always purchase or bring additional items from home. Finally, they should remember that along with packing essentials, they should bring a sense of self, a sense of purpose, and a sense of humor.

First-Year Interest Groups

First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) are designed to help first-year students transition to UW–Madison both academically and socially. A FIG is a learning community of about 20 students with similar interests who enroll together in a cluster of classes that are linked by a common theme.

First-Generation Families

Visitors enjoy the Memorial Union Terrace on a warm spring day, Lake Mendota in the background.

Having a student who is the first member of a family to attend college brings a great sense of pride. UW–Madison believes that academic and career success is possible for students of all backgrounds. We support first-generation college students and their families throughout the college experience through the resources below.

Working Class Student Union

UW–Madison’s Working Class Student Union (WCSU) supports and advocates for working class and first-generation college students and educates the entire UW–Madison community on the benefits of recognizing and celebrating class diversity.

Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO)

The Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO) provides a supportive learning environment for students from various backgrounds. CeO assists first-generation college students, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities through academic coaching, mentoring, academic and career advising, and structured first- and second-year experiences.

McNair Scholars Program

The McNair Scholars Program is dedicated to preparing low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented undergraduate students for graduate education. McNair Scholars engage in research opportunities, attend research conferences, receive one-on-one academic counseling, participate in professional development workshops, and attend seminars on all aspects of graduate school, including the application process.

International Families

Sending your student to a new country is an exciting process that comes with its own set of questions. The UW international student population is among the largest of any university in the country, and our campus recognizes the essential contributions international students make to our community. Below are resources for you and your student.

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International Families FAQs

This FAQ provides information in English about specific resources and organizations for international students, visiting Madison, the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), obtaining a Social Security number, scholarships, what your student can expect in the classroom, and much more.

International Student Services

The UW–Madison International Student Services office provides direct support through academic advising, documentation assistance, and sponsored events. The office’s interactive online guide offers information about visa and immigration issues, academics, employment, student life, and more.


The BRIDGE international friendship program connects students from over 30+ different countries with U.S. students to assist with the initial adjustment to the university, to the new culture, and to build meaningful friendships. It is also an opportunity to become a part of an engaging and positive community composed of U.S. and international students.

Out-of-State Families

Pedestrians make their way along a sidewalk on Bascom Hill.

UW–Madison is home to students from all over the world — and all 50 states. Questions may arise during your student’s transition to a new, and perhaps unfamiliar, place.

Transportation and Parking

Reference information about parking, traveling to and from Madison, moped safety, buses, biking, car sharing, and maps and directions.

Explore Madison

Explore a seasonal guide to Madison, the surrounding natural landscape, and campus beauty, along with a host of things to see and do all year long.

Residence for Tuition Purposes

Initial residence determinations for tuition purposes at UW–Madison are made by the Office of the Registrar’s Residence Counselors, based on the provisions of Wisconsin Statutes 36.27(2). In general, one must be a bona fide resident of Wisconsin for at least 12 months prior to enrollment to be eligible for in-state tuition.

Storage Options

Students coming to UW–Madison from a long distance sometimes utilize storage options, especially those who plan to return home during the summer.

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Walking, biking, and busing are the most convenient ways to navigate campus. While discouraged, some students choose to bring their cars to school. Students who need to register a car in Wisconsin or obtain a Wisconsin driver’s license should visit the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Transfer Families

Two female undergraduates hugging.

Students who transfer to UW–Madison may already have a good sense of what college life is like, but learning the landscape of UW–Madison can present new challenges. Transfer students make up nearly a quarter of the UW’s undergraduate student body and are active throughout campus. Several resources are designed to specifically support transfer students throughout their time in college.

Transfer Transition Program

Whether a student is preparing to transfer or has already enrolled at UW–Madison, the Transfer Transition Program can help smooth the way. The program’s primary goal is to improve academic and personal outcomes for transfer students by encouraging and supporting positive academic and social engagement. The office provides numerous services including:

Transfer Credit

After your student has been admitted and confirmed an intent to enroll, the Office of Admissions and Recruitment will perform an official evaluation of transfer credits. The office’s transfer course equivalency database and guidelines assist students who wish to evaluate how their courses may transfer.

Alumni Families

Whether you’ve stayed connected to UW–Madison or you’re rediscovering your Badger pride as a Badger family, there are many ways to engage with the university.

Wisconsin Alumni Association

The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA), founded in 1861 to promote the welfare of the UW and serve the interests of its alumni, helps graduates from around the world (and their families) stay connected to their alma mater.

Visit the WAA website to learn more about the benefits of being a member and membership opportunities, and explore 100-plus alumni chapters and affiliates that host events throughout the year, including Badger Student Send-Offs for families.