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WGU Advocate WGU and Covid-19

COVID-19 has catalyzed WGU’s economic and political relevance:

WGU was designed to deliver outstanding student outcomes in affordability and salary by partnering with businesses to meet today’s workforce needs.  This founding principle for WGU holds extra significance in the wake of COVID-19’s economic disruption and uncertainty.

Our students.

Our online, competency-based model was ready to meet the needs of our students during COVID-19. We used emergency aid to help struggling students stay on course for completion, and partnered with businesses to prepare remote learners at WGU and across the country for work in the “new normal.”

Our graduates.

WGU’s emphasis on competency and workforce relevance has created a graduating workforce with strong average employability, salary, and employer satisfaction rates. We are working to expand our credential offerings to complement state and federal efforts to upskill and reskill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our communities.

Staggering barriers have deprived many of access to higher education. These barriers create inequity in attainment and prevent communities from breaking the cycle of poverty. The pandemic and shift to remote learning have extended this gap. We commit to eradicating these barriers.


WGU’s COVID-19 strategic initiatives.

$10M Emergency Aid Fund.

Western Governors University has set aside $10 million in emergency aid funds to help current and new students experiencing financial and healthcare hardships as a result of COVID-19. In addition, the online, nonprofit university is working to raise another $10 million in matching donations.

“WGU students, most of whom are learning while they care for families and fulfill job responsibilities—and many of them on the COVID-19 frontlines—need and deserve our help and support,” said WGU President Scott Pulsipher. “Our hope is that this emergency aid will lessen their burden as they continue on their academic journeys.”

A financial disruption of just a few hundred dollars can often derail a student’s academic progress, and 70 percent of WGU’s students come from one or more historically underserved populations: low-income earners, rural residents, students of color, and/or first-generation college students. WGU’s emergency aid fund will help mitigate those financial disruptions with the following:

Non-tuition emergency aid

Support for current students

With expenses that threaten their academic progress, such as rent, groceries, medical bills, internet service, and other essential needs.

Learn more about our COVID-19 student aid.

Enhanced financial support fund.

Hardship scholarships.

For current students who need tuition assistance due to financial disruptions. Funding for interrupted terms: Support for eligible current students, such as those who cannot complete in-person demonstration teaching and clinical rotations.

Learn more about WGU scholarships

Funding for interrupted terms.

Support for eligible current students.

Such as those who cannot complete in-person demonstration teaching and clinical rotations.

Read more about current WGU scholarships

Bright Future Scholarship.

Need-based scholarships.

1,000 need-based scholarships of up to $3,000 each for enrolling students or those newly enrolled since March 1.

Learn more about WGU scholarship.

Additional financial support.

Payment plans.

Help with restructured payment plans or tuition and fee credits for some eligible students.

Learn more.
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Upskill and reskill.

Even before COVID-19, it was evident today’s students needed educational opportunities aligned with workforce needs and employment opportunities. With unprecedented numbers of American workers filing for unemployment during the spring of 2020, shifting the landscape to one of earning and learning is imperative to get Americans back to work with the skills they need. Displaced workers need opportunities to upskill and reskill into good jobs in stable fields through online and distance learning.

New jobs arising during and after the pandemic require workers with validated skills. Now more than ever, the promise of higher education must lead to a real return on investment to better the lives of students and their families. 

Group looking at computer

The digital divide.

Two IT professionals examine one of the worker's work.

The digital divide is the gap between those who have access to reliable high-speed internet and those who do not. This gap can be a crushing barrier to education.

The governors who founded WGU saw the power of the internet to transform education, particularly for rural communities. While the internet continues to be a tool for educational transformation, it is more than that: COVID-19 has shown that broadband is the backbone for all education. While students will return to classrooms, education will forever be inextricably linked to broadband, and policymakers must commit to closing the stark gaps in access to broadband.

WGU’s COVID-19 policy priorities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the urgency and flexibility with which we must respond to students' needs. This crisis has also dramatically illuminated long-standing societal inequities that have driven economic instability for people of color and low socioeconomic status. For far too many, lack of access to education has caused not only lower-income, less stable, and higher-risk jobs, but also less access to healthcare, less healthy food availability, and higher density housing situations. Our priorities during this pandemic are:

1. To provide degree options aligned to job opportunities.

2. To accelerate licensure reform.

3. To expand broadband and digital literacy initiatives.

4. To provide aid for short-term credentials.

5. Modernized, common-sense approaches to licensure & regulations.