Have questions about FISC in 2020-2021?

To better help answer your questions about what FISC will look like in 2020-2021, navigate through the questions below. You can click on any of the following links to take you directly to that question.

Will there be any in-person FISC experience this year?

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic there will be significant changes to residential living and in-person instruction on campus this fall to maintain the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff we have made the very difficult decision to not offer the in-person or residential portions of the FISC program this year.

We understand and recognize that one of the strongest aspects of FISC is the social interaction, networking, and community-building which happens in the residential living spaces, classrooms, and extracurricular activities and events we offer. We also know how important this residential and on-campus student life component to FISC is a key part of your college experience. Unfortunately, the measures necessary to keep students, faculty and staff safe, such as social distancing, prevent us from being able to offer these hallmarks of our program. While not physically together, we are committed to maintaining that strong sense of community and connecting you to FISC’s greater network of alumni, friends, and supporters.

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What is being offered in FISC this year?

We take very seriously the importance of continuing to provide relevant education to our students. Therefore, we are offering flexible learning opportunities in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 to allow continued education for FISC students. Specifically, four courses will be offered online that cover essential topics for a successful farm or agribusiness.

Fall 2020 Term – October 26-December 17, 2020

+FISC 051: Business Principles of Agricultural Management 1 cr.

Description: An introduction to the working of a market economy and decision-making concepts; the role of prices and preferences in making production and consumption decisions; U.S. agricultural system and various economic policies that may be employed by government; Taxation, regulation, trade, and employment policies. Also provides a foundation in financial records and documents.

Instructor: Jeremy Beach, Agriculture & Applied Economics

Mode:Mixed – majority of information will be asynchronous with weekly synchronous meeting time/s for group work or meet with instructor

+FISC 057: Introduction to Soils 2 cr.

Description: Soil formation; important physical and chemical properties; soil moisture; introduction to soil fertility; soil mapping and classification.

Instructor: Francisco Arriaga, Soils

Mode:Mixed – majority of information will be asynchronous with weekly synchronous meeting time for labs or meeting with instructor

Spring 2021 Term – January 19-March 12, 2021

+FISC 050: Business of Agriculture 1 cr.

Description: Examines the five areas of risk management of an agricultural business: production risk, human risk, financial risk, market risk, and institutional risk. Discusses the internal and external contexts affecting the management of an agricultural business. Investigates the changing structures of agriculture, creating a unique landscape for today’s agricultural businesses. Students are encouraged throughout the course to reflect on and discuss examples from their own experiences, and think critically about how these factors may impact their strategy for managing a business.

Instructor: Kalyanna Williams, Dairy Science

Mode:Asynchronous – all material and interactions will be asynchronous; live/synchronous meeting times with instructor will be optional

+FISC 115: Agribusiness Feasibility Planning 1 cr.

Description: Accounting, budgeting and communication skills are necessary to develop and evaluate farm business plans. Students are introduced to computerized farm accounting and will develop skills with modern electronic spreadsheets and FINPACK while developing a case farm feasibility assignment.

Instructor: Jeremy Beach, Agriculture & Applied Economics

Mode:Mixed – majority of information will be asynchronous with weekly synchronous meeting time/s for group work or meet with instructor

We will post the syllabi for each course as soon as possible!

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Can I just take one course or do I have to take them all?

It’s up to you! You can choose the level of participation to meet your individual needs. We have three options to help you find the right path for you.

+Pursue a Certificate

Work towards the Foundations of Farm & Agribusiness Management Certificate!

With this option you take all 4 courses (5 credits total) offered online in 2020-2021 and then complete the certificate by taking 7 credits in Fall 2021, which we anticipate will be back on campus.

For more information about this certificate and its courses, visit this page.

Interested? Apply here.

+Meet the Farm Service Agency's Loan Requirements

Need a loan? Take the courses you need for meeting the educational requirement for FSA’s Beginning Farmer & Rancher Loan!

For this option you take the two financial management courses offered this year: FISC 051 Business Principles of Agricultural Management (1 cr, Fall) and FISC 115 Agribusiness Feasibility Planning (1 cr, Spring).

These two courses meet the educational requirement for the Farm Service Agency Beginning Farmer & Rancher Loan program. This loan is a great opportunity for farmers with 10 years or less of farming experience and who are interested in starting their own farm or buying into a farm operation.

To learn more about this loan program, visit the Farm Service Agency website.

Interested? Apply here.

+A la carte

Take any single course or combination of courses to meet your needs!

This option gives you the ultimate flexibility and control over your educational experience.

Whether you choose only one or a combination of courses, it’s up to you based on your needs and unique situation!

Interested? Apply here.

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How does participating in FISC this year benefit me?

We understand this is not FISC experience you may have envisioned; however, there are still many ways in which participating in FISC can help you achieve your goals!

  • Whether you take one or all four courses, you can reach your potential for owning, operating, or working for a successful farm or ag business. In today’s tough agriculture industry, having business smarts is just as important as knowing how to produce the highest quality milk or getting the highest bushel per acre on your fields. Having good farm business management skills is the make or break to getting the loan, pursuing other markets, expanding herd size or acreage, knowing your costs, and ultimately, keeping your farm or business from going bankrupt.
  • Save time and money! Instead of spending money on gas or needing to reserve a room on-campus, you can take courses and participate in FISC from the comfort of your home. The flexibility of online means you have the chance to continue working on the farm and gaining valuable work experience while building your knowledge and skills in farm and business management.
  • Connect to a world-wide network of farmers and agriculture professionals! FISC has a long history (136 years) and there are FISC alumni in every sector of agriculture, with operations and businesses just like yours. Even through the long-distance of online education, you will be part of this strong and active network, connecting you to people and resources to help you move forward on your path towards your goals.

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How much will FISC cost?

Courses are for-credit and therefore are the same as standard UW-Madison undergraduate rates. Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 tuition and fee rates will be posted in August.

To help you navigate this information, here is a table with the costs based on last year’s rates for each of the 3 options mentioned above (but see scholarship opportunities in next question):

+Pursue a Certificate
Term
WI Resident
IA, IL, MI, MN Residents
Other States Residents
International Residents
Fall - 3 credits
$ 1,380.07
$ 1,885.66
$ 4,762.54
$ 4,887.55
Spring – 2 credits
$ 937.56
$ 1,274.63
$ 3,192.54
$ 3,275.88
TOTAL
$ 2,317.63
$ 3,160.29
$ 7,955.08
$ 8,163.43
+Meet the Farm Service Agency's Loan Requirements
Course
WI Resident
IA, IL, MI, MN Residents
Other States Residents
International Residents
FISC 51 - 1 cr. (Fall)
$ 495.05
$ 663.58
$ 1,622.54
$ 1,664.21
FISC 115 - 1 cr. (Spring)
$ 495.05
$ 663.58
$ 1,622.54
$ 1,664.21
TOTAL
$ 990.10
$ 1,327.16
$ 3,245.08
$ 3,328.42
+A la carte

Tuition is charged per semester, so to determine your cost, you will need to decide what course(s) you want to take each semester and use the chart below to determine the semester cost.

Per Term
WI Resident
IA, IL, MI, MN Residents
Other States Residents
International Residents
1 credit
$ 495.05
$ 663.58
$ 1,622.54
$ 1,664.21
2 credits
$ 937.56
$ 1,274.62
$ 3,192.54
$ 3,275.88
3 credits
$ 1,380.07
$ 1,885.66
$ 4,762.54
$ 4,887.55

Remember, there are no costs this year related to on-campus housing, meals, or parking.

Tuition is charged per term and is collected by the Bursar’s Office. Any scholarships and financial aid distributed by FISC is awarded to your account, to be applied to your tuition bill.

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Are there scholarships and financial aid available?

Yes! We will be continuing our tradition of offering strong scholarship support, thanks to the support of our wonderful FISC alumni and stakeholders. 100% of students who apply for scholarships will receive aid!

You can expect your financial aid award to be between $250-$1,500. Financial need will be prioritized when possible for scholarship awards. Other considerations include academic merit and number of credits taken.

Students must apply through our scholarships application to be eligible for FISC financial aid. Every student who applies for scholarships will receive aid. Scholarship applications need to be received by August 1, 2020 for consideration.

Additionally, other external funding is still available to students during this alternative year. Students interested in option 1 – pursuing the Foundations certificate – should consider applying for UMOS, a non-profit organization able to provide full-ride funding to students who have agricultural work experience. Information about this opportunity and additional ways to fund your education can be found on our “Funding Your Education” page.

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What kind of technology do I need?

Online courses require different technology needs than our usual, in-person courses. Here’s a list of the minimum requirements needed to have a successful online course experience:

  • High-speed, reliable internet – you will be watching pre-recorded videos or participating in live, virtual class sessions, which require internet speeds that allow for streaming capability. It is recommended to have a minimum internet speed of 512kbps. If you live near a UW Ag Research Station – locations across the state – you can visit and connect to their high-speed internet network to access your courses. Also, many libraries offer free wi-fi which you may connect to to access Canvas.
  • Latest version of Chrome browser – Chrome, a free web-browser, is recommended for Canvas, our online course software platform. Having the latest version installed ensures that you have the best experience. Canvas will work on Firefox 76 and 77 and Safari 12 and 13 as well. Also, ensure whatever browser you are using has the most up-to-date Flash plug-in and is the newest version.
  • Webcam and microphone – Classes will be a combination of live sessions and recorded video. In order to participate in the live sessions, you will need a webcam and microphone.

While Canvas is designed for maximum compatibility, there are a few minimum requirements for the best experience when using a laptop, Chromebook, Surface tablet, or desktop computer:

  • Newer Computer When Possible – Use a computer 5 years old or newer
  • Screen Size – A minimum of 1024×600, which is also the average size of a netbook.
  • Operating System – Minimum of Windows XP and newer; Mac OSX 10.6 and newer; Linux chromeOS
  • Computer Technical Specifications – Minimum of 1GB of RAM, 2 GHz processor
  • Common Programs Installed – you will need a computer that is able to access common programs such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, etc.)
  • Ensure Enough Storage Space – There are many free, cloud-based storage programs available (you have Google Drive through your netID). You will be downloading files and also creating documents and materials which you will need to be able to store to access throughout the course.

As a student, you will be able to download and use common programs for free. Microsoft Office and anti-virus software are just some of the programs available to you as a UW-Madison student. You can see the complete list and how to download them here:available software here.

Please note: It is not recommended to use your phone as the primary means of accessing course materials or engaging with a course. While Canvas (the platform UW uses for their courses) is available in an app form, it is only helpful for quick access, such as to check a grade, send a quick communication, or see upcoming assignments.

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What if I don't have a laptop or computer?

We can help you with that! UW-Madison has a free laptop checkout program to help students be prepared for remote instruction. Laptops can be shipped to you as needed. You can find more information about how to checkout a laptop for free here:informational page.

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How much time will online courses take?

The number of credits associated with courses determine the time expected, in and out of class-time, for success. For a 1 credit course, you should expect to spend 6 hours per week working on that course. For a 2-credit course, you should expect 12 hours per week.

Some courses will have synchronous meeting times, which means that at pre-determined times the whole class will meet online for a live session. You should plan to be present in class at these times. We will be posting as soon as possible which courses will be having synchronous meeting times.

However, even for courses with primarily asynchronous (no scheduled) activities, these are not self-paced courses; students should be prepared to meet deadlines for assignments, projects and exams. You will need to manage your time to ensure you meet course expectations in order to pass the course successfully.

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Will FISC continue to be an online-only program in the future?

No, changes to FISC for the 2020-2021 academic year are in response to the unprecedented issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

While we work through a very unique situation and time, we want to reassure you that this is not the new normal. FISC will be back and better than ever with the high-quality, applied agriculture education you expect and need to pursue your future in the agriculture industry.

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What is the future of FISC?

FISC staff and CALS administration remain committed to the future of FISC programming, and we look forward to creating the best possible experiences for all our students in Fall 2021 and for generations to come. We fully expect FISC to be back to in-person and residential programming in Fall 2021!

Jennifer, FISC Director, will be using this time to continue to work on future programming of FISC to build and improve on its long history of applied and relevant agricultural education. Discussions with students, alumni, stakeholders, and industry partners will be critical to ensure that FISC continues to best meet the needs of students and the ag industry.

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