Begin with Informed Decisions
Responsible borrowing at WGU focuses on helping students understand student loans and encouraging them to borrow only what they need.
All students who apply for financial aid receive a personalized Financial Aid Plan, which recommends that students borrow only their “unmet direct costs”—tuition and fees minus any grants or scholarships. The personalized plan includes information about cost of attending WGU as well as links to financial aid tools and resources.
Since 2013, the average borrowing per year per student (of those who borrow) has decreased by more than 30%. Through our Responsible Borrowing Initiative, currently 65% of borrowers accept the recommendation to borrow less, and another 10% decline loans altogether. By simply providing useful information, WGU is able to significantly change student behavior and reduce borrowing.
Undergraduate students at WGU graduate with 1/2 the debt of their peers across the country. Half!*
*WGU average annual bachelor’s tuition rates are 48% lower than the national average, compared to national rates reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems in 2022. WGU average rate does not include rates for WGU Bachelor of Science, Nursing Prelicensure program.
WGU’s FY2018 3-year cohort loan default rate is 3.0%, compared to the national average of 7.3%.
WGU Receives Awards for Innovative, Effective Practices in Higher Education
Western Governors University is proud to be acknowledged for reducing debt by $400 million since 2013, and our Responsible Borrowing Initiatives have been spotlighted with several industry awards in recent years. In 2021, WGU's Responsible Borrowing Initiatives received the Gold Star Award from the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), which recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level, targeted toward any constituency. NASFAA is the only national, nonprofit association with a primary focus on information dissemination, professional development, and legislative and regulatory analysis related to federal student aid programs.
In 2020, WGU received the 2020 Ellucian Impact Award for it work in changing the way students think about debt.
WGU received the WOW Award from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WCET) in 2016, named as an exemplary program to be held as a model for the higher education community. WCET, a division of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, is a national, member-driven nonprofit which brings together colleges and universities, higher education organizations, and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of e-learning programs.
In June 2016, WGU’s Responsible Borrowing Initiative also received an Exemplary Models Award from the American Association of University Administrators, whose mission is to develop and advance superior standards for the profession of higher education administration.
As Seen in the News
Education Dive: Helping students choose ‘responsible borrowing’
The Heartland Institute: Western Governors University Praised For Reducing Student Debt
Huffington Post: Addressing the Student Debt Crisis