Fewer Wisconsin high school students are filing for federal financial aid this school year in what education experts fear is a sign that some students are putting college plans for fall on hold, or abandoning those dreams altogether.
Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is an important step in the college planning process because it determines eligibility for federal grants, loans, scholarships and work-study funding.
Roughly three months into the financial aid application cycle, the number of Wisconsin high school seniors who have completed the FAFSA is down 13% from the same time last year, according to U.S. Education Department
data analyzed by the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), a nonprofit trying to close equity gaps in higher education.
The decline is even worse at schools that serve a large number of low-income students and students of color.
MorraLee Keller, a former financial aid coordinator who works as NCAN’s director of technical assistance, said Wisconsin’s data mirrors what’s happening nationally and is yet another repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic. With many schools operating online or in a hybrid format, sustaining students’ attention in class is already a challenge. Then consider all of the steps a school typically takes in shepherding students onto college.
“They have to get you engaged in classes, then engaged with a school counselor, then engaged with the idea of going to college, then engaged with submitting college applications and then engaged with FAFSA,” Keller said. “If you envision all of those sequences, in many cases all of them having to occur virtually, the engagement level is really difficult. How many hours a day can a student be engaged with their screen?”
The sharp drop in submissions this cycle follows what was already a bruising enrollment year at many colleges and universities across the country. The National Student Clearinghouse reported an “unprecedented” 13% decline in freshman enrollment compared to fall 2019, with the largest declines affecting public two-year institutions.
From Oct. 1 — when the FAFSA became available — through Jan. 8, about 29% of Wisconsin high school seniors, or a little fewer than 21,000 students, completed the form. The completion rate ranks 33rd in the country, according to NCAN data.
“If you’re not seeing your guidance counselor, hearing daily announcements about filing the FAFSA, receiving reminders about filling out scholarship forms, I think we probably have a lot of students unsure about what steps to be taking,” Keller said.
Completing the form can unlock thousands of dollars in aid, helping kick-start conversations about college plans. But experts say the students most in need of help are least likely to apply for it. The tedious form can be daunting, especially for students who will be the first in their families to go to college, come from a low-income household or have parents who are not native English speakers.
College Goal Wisconsin, a statewide group helping students through the financial process, held FAFSA nights at high schools across the state before the pandemic. The events were attended by well over 1,300 students and families, whereas online sessions this past fall brought out a couple of hundred, said Kim Pick, secretary of the group’s executive board.
The Madison School District moved its outreach online and by phone, said Mindy Willard, the district’s school counseling coordinator.
Counselors created “senior launchpads” on their websites, where students could access how-to videos, informational links and a checklist of tasks to be completed before graduation. The district also has regular social media blasts and a monthly newsletter with reminders that mention the FAFSA.
“Kids typically have access to their counselor down the hall,” Willard said. “Being virtual just adds another layer. (Counselors) are still accessible but not as accessible as ‘let me just walk into their office.’”
In normal years, the district’s FAFSA completion rate has been 45 to 50%, she said.
NCAN data shows the districtwide completion rate is down about 6% from this time last year.
The troubling trend reflects how the pandemic scrambled students’ postsecondary plans, Willard said. More are working to support their families. Others are unsure about enrolling if their college experience remains mostly online. For example, counselors heard last spring from many students who decided to defer college for a year or two after learning their school would operate remotely.
Sometime in the next few weeks, the district expects to receive student-level data on FAFSA completion from the state Department of Public Instruction, a relatively new tool the agency will provide districts. The information will help counselors target their outreach to specific students, she said.
Because of COVID-19, College Goal Wisconsin added three more online sessions this winter and spring to help students and families complete the FAFSA. Financial aid experts will be available to answer questions:
Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. March 4 at 11:30 a.m. April 15 at 6 p.m. Registration details are available at collegegoalwi.org/locations.
Another complication in this year’s cycle is that students will use 2019 tax information, which may not capture a job loss or pay cut in 2020. Students can appeal to their college’s financial aid office after they are accepted.
Counselors encourage all students, regardless of income level, to file a FAFSA. Even if a student is ineligible for federal aid, some schools and states rely on the form for their own scholarships and grants.
One sign of hope, Keller said, is that FAFSA completions have picked up slightly in recent weeks, somewhat closing what was an even larger gap reported in the fall.
“For a lot of students, there’s this constant moving target of what going to college will look like next year,” she said. “We feel like there’s a lot of students in 2021 who are in wait-and-see mode.”
Photos of the year: A look back at the Wisconsin State Journal’s top photos of 2020
Photos of the year: A look back at the Wisconsin State Journal's top photos of 2020
Ryan Schmudlack carries Inga, 1 month, with Norah, 2, and Finn, 1, in tow, as the family walks through Tenney Park to the Yahara River for an afternoon canoe trip in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
As snow descends on Olbrich Park in Madison, Wis., Camille Conway and her daughter, Iris, 2, enjoy a swing along the shore of Lake Monona Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Kimi Evelyn, a dancer studying under UW-Madison Professor of Dance Li Chiao-Ping rehearses a performance near the etching "The Means to an End... A Shadow Drama in Five Acts" by artist Kara Elizabeth Walker at the Chazen Museum of Art on the campus of UW-Madison in Madison, Wis. Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Dancers from the school will be part of a performance component of the museum's upcoming Faculty Exhibition 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Fans of the Madison La Follette boys basketball team and guard David Gray (3) react during the closing seconds of La Follette's 71-61 Big Eight Conference win over rival Madison East at Madison East High School in Madison, Wis. Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Dr. Jennifer Kwon, a pediatric neurologist, tests 7-week-old Piper Droessler's strength at UW Hospital in Madison, Wis., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. Born to Caiti and Ben Droessler (background), the Platteville baby was the first child in Wisconsin identified through newborn screening to have spinal muscular atrophy, a potentially fatal muscle wasting disease. She was also the state's first such baby to receive a gene therapy thought to be a cure. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Alyse Bartol, left, and Sara Park take a break from studying at the UW-Madison Memorial Union to goofing around out on the frozen ice of Lake Mendota. The sophomores said they thought the weather was perfect for taking photos on the ice. Snowfall overnight left a basket of white across the UW-Madison campus Thursday Jan. 23, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin Badgers forward Nate Reuvers (35) dunks in the 2nd half. The University of Wisconsin hosted Michigan State Saturday Feb. 1, 2020 in Big Ten basketball at the Kohl Center in Madison. Wisconsin won 64-63. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Doug Endres, of Madison, and his 2-year-old golden retriever, Bosco, look out over Lake Monona near the mouth of the Yahara River at a spot they visit often in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Courtney Byelich, left, Jeff White, center, and Mills Botham setting up the head of Lady Liberty. On Thursday Feb. 6, 2020 employees of the UW-Madison Memorial Union and other volunteers worked on preparing Lady Liberty on the ice of Lake Mendota for this weekends Winter Carnival. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Will O'Rourke, 12, and his father, Steve Chvala, behind right, help carry the American flag to the ice of the Kohl Center during a ceremony honoring Madison-area law enforcement and emergency responders prior to a University of Wisconsin women's hockey team against Ohio State at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Chvala is a member of the Madison Police Department. The team's annual "Fill the Bowl" promotion drew 14,361 fans, the second-largest announced crowd ever to see a women's hockey game in the United States. The Badgers prevailed in double-overtime, 2-1. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin defenseman Grace Bowlby (13) and Ohio State forward Liz Schepers (21) get tangled up during the second period of Wisconsin's 2-1 double-overtime win at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin Badgers guard Brad Davison (34) gets called for a foul while defending Rutgers Scarlet Knights guard Jacob Young (42) in the second half. The University of Wisconsin hosted Rutgers Sunday Feb. 23, 2020 at the Kohl Center in Madison. Wisconsin won 79-71. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Members of the UW-Madison track and cross-country teams are reflected in a melting snow cover in Vilas Park during an afternoon training run in Madison, Wis. Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Taking advantage of the area's trend toward milder late-winter weather, Isabel Cwik, 20 enjoys a ride on a swing at Orton Park in Madison, Wis. Friday, March 6, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Middleton forwards Sitori Tanin, left, and Karina Bursac (25) react following the team's 61-58 WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal win over Madison Memorial at Monona Grove High School in Monona, Wis. Saturday, March 7, 2020. At right is Madison Memorial guard Brooke Peters (3). JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Members of the Middleton girls basketball team celebrate their 61-58 WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal win over Madison Memorial at Monona Grove High School in Monona, Wis. Saturday, March 7, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
India Anderson-Carter, right, announces that she will be a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at UW-Madison through a Virtual Match Day hosted by UW School of Medicine and Public Health, as her family, including her sister, Lexus, at left, react to the news in the basement of her parents' home in Madison, Wis., Friday, March 20, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Hanah Jon Taylor plays the saxophone outside his jazz club, Cafe Coda, on Williamson Street that was ordered to close earlier this week along with bars and restaurants across the state due to the spread of COVID-19, in Madison, Wis., Saturday, March 21, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Sign on the Orpheum Theater on State Street. Views from around State Street in Madison Monday March 23, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
With the "Saver at Home" order from the Governor, traffic volume is down included West Washington Ave Wednesday March 25, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Taking advantage of the region's trend toward more moderate, spring-like temperatures, Jeff Reimann and his daughters Silvia, 7, and Mira, 4, and their Pumi breed dog, Remy, enjoy a cargo bike ride through Vilas Park in Madison, Wis. Friday, March 27, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
A window decorated by 10-year-old Amina Diallo at her home in Deforest, Wis. offers support to essential workers continuing their duties in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Part of a nationwide effort to show appreciation for those whose careers are required during the global health crisis, each color represents a different line of work. Among the groups included are healthcare workers, of which her mother, BethAnn Soiliman-Abdalla, left, who is a nurse, is included. She is pictured at her home Wednesday, April 1, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
With a camera mounted on a tripod, newlyweds Andrew and Emilye West, of Madison, walk around Capitol Square using the self-timer to take pictures on their wedding day, in Madison, Wis., Saturday, April 4, 2020. The couple planned their April 4 wedding last fall, which included family and friends, but had to change plans since the spread of COVID-19. They got married at a park in the town of Burke surrounded by a small group of friends who were practicing social distancing. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Town Dunn, Wis. resident Robert Wilson reviews his selections on his ballot while voting at the town's highway garage building Tuesday, April 7, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Doug Milks clean voting booths after being used for Spring elections at the East High School Tuesday April 7, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
A monitor and chairs spaced six feet apart in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday April 15, 2020 for public viewing of a virtual session to take up legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They remained empty during the session. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
A medical team communicates with a nurse from a patient's hospital room through video conference at UW's American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, April 21, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Roughly 1,300 battery operated candles are placed outside the Wisconsin State Capitol to recognize people in Wisconsin that have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Madison, Wis., Thursday, April 23, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Unable to enter his residence due to ongoing coronavirus precautions, family members and friends of Donald Harrop celebrate his 103rd birthday through a closed doorway at the Milestone Senior Living Center in Cross Plains, Wis. Friday, April 24, 2020. Born in 1917, Harrop has now experienced two pandemics, the Spanish Flu of 1918, and the current COVID-19 crisis. Speaking to him through mobile phones are his granddaughter Tina Klimke and his great-granddaughter, Taylor Ziegler. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Longtime friends, from left, Mary Power, of Fitchburg, Karen Kilroy, of Stoughton, Jane Morgan, of Oregon, and Pattie Sartori, of Stoughton, at right, practice social distancing as they gather for an overdue visit, which included sharing books and food recipes, at Waterman Triangle Park in downtown Oregon, Wis., Wednesday, May 6, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
A statue of Abraham Lincoln, a traditional gathering spot for photos of graduates at UW-Madison in Madison, Wis., remains fenced-off to visitors as the university takes precautions against the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Madison, Wis. Thursday, May 7, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
UW-Madison graduates, from left, Jacob Tottleben, of St. Louis, Lindsey Fischer, of La Crosse, and Olivia Gonzalez, of Milwaukee, open bottles of champagne at the State and Park Street crosswalk to celebrate after watching their virtual spring commencement ceremony on the rooftop of Fischer's apartment, on campus in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 9, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Danielle Toney Munz cleans the floor of her salon, The Cutting Edge Hair and Wellness Salon, as she prepares to reopen up her business Friday in Richland Center, Wis., Thursday, May 14, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Leo Jones, 5, watches the movie "Aladdin" from the window of a car during the opening night of the Duck Pond Drive-In outdoor movie series at the home of the Madison Mallards team at Warner Park in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, May 20, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Twin sisters Mia, left, and Audrey Walz, 14, explore the spring blossoms of crabapple trees during a visit to the UW Arboretum in Madison, Wis. Friday, May 22, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Jack Sosnowski, owner of Buck & Badger Northwoods Lodge on State Street, uses a tape measure to make sure the tables are 6-feet apart. Businesses across Dane County begin opening up up to 25% capacity under the county’s “Forward Dane” reopening plan. Business were opening up on State Street Tuesday, May,26, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Police in riot gear blocking State Street from a group after a peaceful protest Saturday, May 30 evolved into vandalism and looting on State Street. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Protests that ended up on State Street and the Capitol Square in Madison turned destructive Saturday, May, 30, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Police in riot gear use tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a crowd after a peaceful protest Saturday, May 30 evolved into vandalism and looting on State Street. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Police in riot gear use tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a crowd after a peaceful protest Saturday, May 30 evolved into vandalism and looting on State Street. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Anders Martin, co-owner of Sunshine Daydream in Madison, Wis., surveys damage to his business following an overnight looting and rioting spree along State Street in the city's downtown Sunday, May 31, 2020. Volunteers swept broken glass, scrubbed graffiti and helped city workers right toppled planters along the pedestrian mall, where Madison police said about 75 businesses were looted or damaged during the riot, in which a police squad car was torched. (AP Photo/John Hart, Wisconsin State Journal)
Niya McBride, 32, reacts to comments by Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway during a press conference addressing an overnight looting and rioting spree along State Street in Madison, Wis. Sunday, May 31, 2020. McBride, who has been homeless since 2017, said she suffered injuries that required medical attention after she became caught up in a stampede of rioters during the Downtown melee. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Silvestre Mendez, is reflected in a remaining pane of glass in the front window of Rising Son's Deli on State street. Clean up continued Monday, June 1, 2020 for State Street businesses that were damage during the second night of protests in downtown Madison. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Protesters circling around other protesters on the closed John Nolan Drive. Several hundred protesters marched through the streets of Madison, Wisconsin and blocked all six lanes of John Nolan Dr Monday, June, 1, 2020 as part of what they say will be a week of action against police brutality and "white supremacy." STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Paint covers the "Forward" statue outside the Wisconsin State Capitol after riots broke out downtown the previous night, in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, June 2, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
(From left) Sapphina Roller, 19, her mom, Emida and sister, Zaria, 17, pack up art supplies after painting a mural on a boarded up business on State Street in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, June 2, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
During a gathering at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County's Allied Family Center in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, June 3, 2020, area law enforcement officers kneel with residents and community leaders during a moment of silence to remember George Floyd who died last week while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Pictured from left are Armani Bey of the All of Us or None civil and human rights organization, Lt. Reggie Patterson of the Madison Police Department's West District, community member Alton Cunningham, and Justin Creech, an officer with the Madison Police Department's Midtown District. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Carryout orders are served through an opening in a plywood-covered facade of Himal Chuli on State Street in Madison, Wis. Saturday, June 6, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Noelle Hetzel, a body paint artist from Hartford who is assisting artist Dawn Marie Svanoe with the project, right, works on Deondra Brown in Madison, Wis., Sunday, June 7, 2020. Svanoe, who is making a mural painting activists of the Black Lives Matter movement, will be selling photographs and posters of her work to raise money for Urban Triage in Madison. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
A group marches from Park Street toward State Street during a Black Lives Matter Solidarity March organized by the African American Council of Churches in Madison, Wis., Sunday, June 7, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Mankah Mitchell, of Madison, and her son, Braylon, 7, stop to remember George Floyd during a Black Lives Matter Solidarity March organized by the African American Council of Churches on State Street in Madison, Wis., Sunday, June 7, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
People march up State Street toward the state Capitol during a Black Lives Matter Solidarity March organized by the African American Council of Churches in Madison, Wis., Sunday, June 7, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Lynn DuPree, front, and John Burgar, both of Madison, use the slot machines that have protective dividers between them due to COVID-19 at Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, June 9, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Susan Stern, right, moves the tassel on her son Jericho's graduation cap as a group of graduates from Madison West High School's class of 2020 gather outside the high school with their families after parading down Chadbourne Avenue in Madison, Wis., Saturday, June 13, 2020. The event, organized by students, was mostly graduates who live in the University Heights neighborhood. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Layla Beier, 16, dances with Mel Boudreau, left, and Hannah Decker, right, as a party crew visits Beier at her home for "A Day to Remember" event put on by Heartland Church in Sun Prairie, Wis., Sunday, June 14, 2020. Due to COVID-19, the church was unable to host their annual "Night to Remember" event at Monona Terrace, a prom-like experience for people with special needs, so they brought a small dance party to their guests. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Augie Wagner, 12, prepares to put an order in the back of a customer's truck as he works with Kay Jensen, left, of JenEhr Farm in Sun Prairie, during the Dane County Farmers' Market local food pick up at Alliant Energy Center's Willow Island in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, June 17, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Lily Miller President of Union Directors cleans off the spaced out tables and chairs. Chairs and tables were brought out to the UW-Madison Memorial Union Terrace Thursday, June 18, 2020 in advance of their June 22 opening. The venue will be kept at around 17% capacity and will be reservation only. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Dan Tortorice, center, sits with his grandchildren, Aria Oettiker, 9, left, and her brother, Anthony, 6, as they eat ice cream during a visit to Henry Vilas Zoo on the first day of the reopening since it closed due to COVID-19 in Madison, Wis., Thursday, June 18, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Dwyquan Morris, of Madison, shares a moment with his daughter, Naomi Lawrence, 6, during a Juneteenth event at Olin Park in Madison, Wis., Friday, June 19, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
An empty pedestal where the Forward statue once stood. Scenes from around the State Capitol Wednesday, June, 24, 2020 the morning after protesters tore down statues of Forward and a Union Civil War colonel. Protesters also assaulted a state senator and damaged the Capitol Tuesday night after the arrest of a Black activist earlier in the day. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Herman Kaldenberg, 97, a regular customer at the Piccadilly Lilly Diner in Lone Rock, Wis., shares a laugh with visitors during one of his near daily stops at the restaurant Tuesday, June 30, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Pat Dye working in the near empty Mackesey's Irish Pub on State Street. Bar owners were operating under new restrictions, that basically shuts them down. They can only be open for takeout only. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Lucy Bobzien, 8, right, and her sister, Norah, 6, of Madison, splash each other as they swim in the Yahara River near Riverside Drive during an outing with their mom in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, July 8, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
(From left) Bailie Wellner, of Boscobel, and Bryce Clark, of Muscoda, pass time as they wait for the featured movie "Fast & Furious" to start at Starlite 14 drive-in theater in Richland Center, Wis., Friday, July 10, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Ethan Brown-Scott, 14, left, and his sister, Mya, 13, with Kati Stone, in background, spray colored water in a crowd as they attend a Paint Your Pride event at the intersection of State and Gorham Streets in Madison, Wis., Sunday, July 12, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
(From left) Counselor Mitchel Pronga plays a board game with summer campers Kayla Castill, 9, Ava Guimond, 12, and Lila Arkin, 10, at Lussier Family East YMCA in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, July 15, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Social Distancing mark on the stairs to the water slides. Madison’s Goodman Pool finally opens for the season, with new capacity limits, a mask mandate and reduced hours. The pool was photographed Thursday, July 16 ,2020 STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
During a rally held in conjunction with nationwide "Strike for Black Lives" gatherings, participants march along Williamson Street in Madison, Wis. Monday, July 20, 2020. Taking part in the demonstration at center are Rachel Chisman and her daughter, Eden. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
HaakHagen Goat Grazing, a farm out of Poynette run by friends Greg Haak and Brooke Hushagen was photographed Wednesday, July 22, 2020 setting up for grazing at Olin Park in Madison. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Goodman Community Center summer camp members Ma'isha Suwareh, 9, left, and Slimatou Barry, 8, enjoy a run through the waters of the center's splash pad as they make the most of the day's sunny conditions in Madison, Wis. Friday, July 24, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Participants in a one-week session through St. Ambrose Academy's Summer Skills Workshop go birding at Owen Conservation Park in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, July 28, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
As business owners along State Street in Madison Wis. consider the best ways to move forward after pandemic concerns and racial justice protests challenged their enterprises, Michelangelo's Cafe owner Sam Chehade looks out the front window of his shop in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, July 29, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Ari Viscarra and Sean Kim, both of Madison, wait with other vehicles on the racetrack of the Wisconsin State Fair Park prior a daily opening of the Fair Food Drive-Thru event in West Allis, Wis. Thursday, July 30, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin football team at practice Monday, August 10, 2020. The Big Ten will make an announcement Tuesday that will cancel the fall football season. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Mourners gathered Thursday, August 13, 2020 at Brittingham Park in Madison, Wisconsin to release balloons at 11:11am, the moment Anisa Scott’s family was due to withdraw life support from the 11-year-old shooting victim. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Sue Leute of East Dubuque, Ill. heads out into the waters of Lake Wingra in Madison, Wis. during a paddleboard outing with her long-haired chihuahua, Peanut, during a day trip to the city with her husband, Kevin, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Family and friends of Anisa Scott, an 11-year-old Madison, Wis. girl killed by gunfire while riding a vehicle, gather as doves are released in her memory prior to a memorial service and celebration of her life in the city Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Liam McCarthy who works for Teddywedgers, waiting for workers to arrive to board up the broken windows on the State Street Business. Cleanup from early morning vandalism on State Street and the Capital S was photographed Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
A candle light vigil was held on the Capital Square as part of the protests that continued in Madison, Wisconsin Tuesday, Aug.,25, 2020 over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Adhering to protocols put in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, members of the UW-Madison marching band wear face coverings and play instruments with bell covers during a limited capacity practice session on the campus in Madison, Wis. Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
With students seated at a distance from each other due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, UW-Madison philosophy professor Harry Brighouse leads a discussion with the group in an Ingraham Hall lecture room on the campus in Madison, Wis. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Pedestrians crossing State Street during a rainy and cold day Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
A student’s window at Sellery Hall displays a message that many in the quarantined dorm may have been thinking Thursday Sept. 10, 2020 as the university took steps to address a COVID-19 outbreak on campus. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Unloading food at Sellery HallThursday, Sept., 10, 2020. This was day one of the 14 day quarantine at Witte and Sellery Halls quarantine Thursday, Sept., 10, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Carlas Brown prays during an outdoor service in the parking lot at S.S. Morris Community AME Church on Milwaukee Street in Madison, Wis., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Adrian Purnae, 10, of Madison, leads a group from McPike Park to Orton Park during a Kids March for Black Lives event in Madison, Wis., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
People working to prepare absentee ballots. Wisconsin’s clerks are sending out thousands of absentee ballots starting today. On Tuesday, Sept., 15, 2020 work was being completed to prepare the ballots to be mailed at the City-County Building in Madison. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
The Green Bay Packers run out to an empty Lambeau Field Sunday, Sept., 20, 2020. The Packers played with empty seats because of the COVID cases spiking in Wisconsin. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Creative Learning Preschool student Zachary Braun, 4, reacts under a cascade of thrown leaves during a first-day-of-autumn visit with teachers and classmates to the grounds of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Stephanie Rytilahti and her children, Cecil, 7, Sorrel, 4, and Orion, 2, and dogs Pineapple, Boots and Gigi enjoy an autumn outing as they make their way along Ohio Street in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Tent encampments are popping up around Madison for the homeless. The homeless at McPike Park and Reindahl Park were photographed Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
After morning rain showers moved through the area, Joaquin Perez, 12, enjoys and afternoon of sunshine and in-line skating during a trip to the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Skatepark at Madison’s McPike Park in Madison, Wis. Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
April Prusia kneels down by a group of piglets that got out of their fenced area on her farm, DorothyÕs Range Farm, where she raises pastured Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs in Blanchardville, Wis., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Wheeling through changing autumn colors of the UW Arboretum, a bicyclist enjoys the day's cool, but dry and calm conditions during the outing along Arboretum Drive in Madison, Wis. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Madison, Wis. residents Evelio Mancera and his daughter, Jennifer Mancera, fill out their ballots on the first day of the state's in-person absentee voting window for the Nov. 3 election outside the city's City-County Building Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Towering red cedar trees share a bluff above the Wisconsin River Valley at Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area near Lodi, Wis. Exploring the area during a visit Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 is Christine Marsh of Glenbeulah, Wis. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
The Wisconsin Badgers hosted Illinois in Big Ten football Friday, Oct., 23, 2020 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wi. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Pat Butler, Chief Inspector, checking on absentee ballots. at Mendota Elementary School Tuesday, Nov., 3, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin.. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Steve Apps)
Michelle Masterson takes a selfie in front of the "I Voted Today" sign outside Oregon Village Hall polling place in Oregon, Wis., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Poll worker Joyce Kaping cleans a protection barrier during down time between voters at First Lutheran Church polling place in Stoughton, Wis., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Medical staff attending to patients stricken with COVID-19 don protective equipment in a unit dedicated to treatment of the novel coronavirus at UW Health in Madison, Wis. Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
A pro Trump "STOP THE STEAL" rally was held Friday, Nov., 6, 2020 at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Black Lives Matter protesters square off with Trump protesters at a Trump "STOP THE STEAL" rally that was held Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Angela Maloney, Madison, left, and Eva Szocik, Milwaukee, celebrate the Biden win. Supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden celebrate Saturday, Nov., 7, 2020 at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. They were celebrating the projection that he would be the next President of the United States. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden celebrate Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020 at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. They were celebrating the projection that Biden would be the next President of the United States. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Sons of the American Revolution member Mike Nelson carries an American Flag toward a Veterans Day observance at Union Rest in Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. Presented by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Henry Harnden Camp #2, the gathering was held to honor today's veterans through remembrances of historic military heroes with local ties. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
The Green Bay Packers hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Green Bay Packers defense celebrates a 2nd quarter interception by Adrian Amos (31) . The Green Bay Packers hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lambeau Field Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
A late afternoon sun silhouettes a visitor to the shoreline Lake Wingra at Vilas Park in Madison, Wis. Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Election officials from around Dane County brought in ballots Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 to the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin for the recount that begins Friday. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Kate Dale, left, and her sister, Meg Prestigiacomo, with a picture of their mother, Anne Heine, who died from COVID-19 in July on her 73rd birthday, outside Prestigiacomo's home in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
The goal is not counted as Wisconsin's Jason Dhooghe (23) collides with Penn State's Oskar Autio (35) in the second period at La Bahn Arena in Madison, Wis., Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
The season's first measurable snowfall adds a wintry look to the area's surroundings for this dog owner and her pet exploring the morning accumulation during a walk through Harvey E. Schmidt Park in Madison, Wis. Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Empty seats at the Kohl Center as the Wisconsin Badgers take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions in a men's basketball game in Madison, Wis., Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Making the most of the waning days of autumn, a group of frisbee enthusiasts enjoy a game of Ultimate while watching the day's sun set and an evening moon rise along the Lake Michigan lakefront in Milwaukee, Wis. Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
A nearly-full moon ascends in the sky behind a pair of visitors to the Lake Michigan lakefront in Milwaukee, Wis. Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin Badgers basketball players cheer on their team from the bench at the end of the second half of a game against Green Bay Phoenix at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Joshua Jaeschke, 18, a senior at Middleton High School, plays the euphonium outside a family member's home on a farm in Oregon, Wis., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Willie Lyons pounds a nail into a board to use as a coat hook at the entrance of his new tiny hut at an Occupy Madison tiny house village at the former Wiggie's Bar location on the North Side in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Christian Kirksey (58) defends on a pass attempt to Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott (35) in the 1st quarter. The Green Bay Packers hosted the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Dec.6, 2020 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) hands the ball to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) after Rodgers threw a 9-yard touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter. This was Rodgers 400 career touchdown pass. The Green Bay Packers hosted the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Dec.6, 2020 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. STEVE APPS, STATE JOURNAL
Marshall's Laura Nickel (32) looks for a pass around New Glarus' Alexandra Atwell (15) and Grace Nommensen (20) in the first half of a basketball game at New Glarus High School in New Glarus, Wis., Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Enjoying an unseasonably mild afternoon of weather, Ebba Patterson, 8, and her brother, Owen, 6, engage in a "cattail fight" during a visit to Vilas Park in Madison, Wis. Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL
Wisconsin Badgers forward Micah Potter reacts after dunking the ball in the first half of a game against Rhode Island Rams at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Lodi basketball players cheer their team on from the bleachers in the first half of a basketball game against New Glarus at Lodi High School in Lodi, Wis., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL
Brittany Pahnke, of Madison, sings into a microphone as she warms-up for the Wisconsin Chamber Choir's Car Carols concert from the roof of a parking garage at American Family Insurance in Madison, Wis., Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL