Committed to supporting responsible borrowing for our students.
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 40%. 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 2020 Annual Report
Of the WGU students who borrow, this program has reduced the amount borrowed by 41% since 2013.
WGU's FY2017 cohort's 3-year loan default rate is 4.1%, compared to the national average of 9.7%—again, less than half.
Since WGU grads, on average, increase their income by $12,300 within 2 years of graduation, our graduates see an ROI much faster.
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.
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.
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