A Brief Guide to Graduation Rates, Tuition Costs, Borrowing, and Graduate Career Success at WGU

Prospective students often have some basic questions and concerns about schools they are considering, such as:

   What is the graduation rate?
   What will it cost?
   Can I get school loans for my degree?
   Will it help me reach my goals?

Below is more detailed information to help you evaluate WGU.

Graduation Rates

The overall graduation rate at WGU is currently tracking about 40% of all students.

For WGU undergraduate students 25 and older—some 86% of our undergrad students—our graduation rate is 37%. Based on several national surveys this is about 10% higher than the national average for students in this age group. For undergraduate students who began at WGU in recent years, we are projecting a graduation rate of 45-50%.

Note: The Department of Education’s “College Scorecard” for WGU calculated an 18% graduation rate for first-time, full-time students who began at WGU in the Fall of 2005, six years ago. Unfortunately, the data covered just 842 out of 4,630 students enrolled at the time. Currently, less than 1% of new students are first-time, full-time students. Instead, the vast majority of WGU 39,000+ students (average age, 37) entered with a previous degree or prior college experience to finish a bachelor’s, graduate certification, or master’s program and are not included in the scorecard data.

A graduation rate around 45-50%, while good compared to schools with comparable student demographics, isn’t good enough. Our focus and near-term goal is to graduate at least 60%. Unfortunately, adult students have complicated, busy lives that can interfere with academics, leading to dropping, at least temporarily. Yet three out of four WGU students who do drop, typically because of personal or career reasons, indicate a desire to return to WGU to finish their degree programs.

WGU’s retention and graduation rates continue to improve every year. The key to success is a strong start. Students who successfully complete their first year are likely to graduate.

Tuition Costs

Most WGU degree programs cost around $6,000-$6,500 a year for tuition, remarkably low for a private, nonprofit university.

We work hard to keep tuition affordable. At WGU there has been no tuition increase since 2008.

An additional Resource Fee of $145 a term, which covers almost all textbooks (as e-texts) and other learning materials, saves WGU students thousands of dollars normally paid for textbooks. With only a few exceptions for special programs, there are no other mandatory fees.

Note: The College Scorecard from the USDOE reports an “average net price” to attend WGU of $15,521.

This amount significantly exceeds the cost of tuition because the calculation includes a “cost of attendance” allowance for additional indirect costs, including some living expenses, less any Pell Grants that students obtained. The data is from 2009 and only includes students who took out school loans. At WGU students are only obligated to pay the tuition and fees.

Learn more at http://www.wgu.edu/tuition_financial_aid/tuition

Borrowing to Pay for College

WGU strongly encourages students to pay tuition and fees from their personal resources to avoid unneeded school loans; however, federal loans are available and many students choose to borrow.

WGU students are eligible for Federal Direct Student Loans, under borrowing guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Education. Eligible students can borrow sufficient funds to cover tuition and fees, plus additional funds can be borrowed for other indirect costs, including some living expenses.

The loan amounts borrowed by WGU students vary widely, and the annual borrowing has decreased in recent years. We are working to continue this trend so that students have a smaller debt burden upon graduation.

Most WGU student borrowers are careful about their school loans and repay them in a timely fashion. WGU’s official 3-year default rate of 8% is lower than the national average and much lower than at many similar institutions.

Learn more at http://www.wgu.edu/tuition_financial_aid/financial_aid

Graduate Career Success

While students come to WGU for widely different career reasons, when they graduate, they’re finding the opportunities they sought.

Advancement: In a 2011 survey of nearly 4,000 graduates (by Lighthouse Research), 65% reported they got a raise, promotion, or new job responsibilities as a result of their WGU degree. 76% reported they were employed in their degree field.

Employer Acceptance: When employers were asked how WGU graduates compared, 98% rated WGU graduates equal to or above their counterparts who graduated from other colleges and universities. 97% of employers rated WGU graduates’ preparation for the workforce as good or excellent.

Graduate Satisfaction: A recent Harris Poll revealed that 96% of WGU graduates would recommend WGU to others, compared to 56% who attended other schools. 79% of WGU grads said they would return to their alma mater to pursue another degree, compared to 49% of grads from other schools.

Learn more at http://www.wgu.edu/about_WGU/graduate_success