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IMPACT

Policy Priorities

To find out what is being done to close the digital divide in your state, reach out to our Government Relations representatives.

WGU's Policy Priorities

WGU believes in the inherent worth and talent of every individual. In order to connect talented individuals with opportunity, higher education must be more accessible and affordable than it has traditionally been, especially for students from socioeconomically underserved populations. But beyond education itself, we must work to break down barriers to post-degree career success. 

We work closely with federal and state policymakers to support legislation and standards that smooth the way for students, professionals, and employers, helping to foster a skilled workforce, a strong economy, and reslilient communities. Keep reading to learn more about WGU's policy priorities and our recommendations for changing the landscape of learning and work.

To find out what is being done to close the digital divide in your state, reach out to our Government Relations representatives.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte and WGU President Scott Pulsipher sign an MOU expanding state financial assistance eligibility to WGU students in the state.

To find out what is being done to close the digital divide in your state, reach out to our Government Relations representatives.

Affordability

The high cost of obtaining a college degree disproportionately leaves
underserved students with limited access to postsecondary education.
Affordability is often a reason why many leave college without a degree,
often with student loan debt.

To find out what is being done to close the digital divide in your state, reach out to our Government Relations representatives.

Responsible Borrowing

Approximately 43 million Americans owe more than $1.7 trillion in
public and private loans, making student loans the nation’s largest
source of non-mortgage debt. This debt can have a disruptive effect on
borrowers’ lives, with repayment being an obstacle for many.

To find out what is being done to close the digital divide in your state, reach out to our Government Relations representatives.

Online Learning

Online education continues to grow in popularity, even as the total number of college students decreases. The online format is particularly attractive to working learners, rural learners, and people living in education deserts, who are drawn to the flexibility and accessibility that online learning provides.

To find out what is being done to close the digital divide in your state, reach out to our Government Relations representatives.

National Nursing Shortage

Policymakers on the state andfederal levels can combat the nationwide nursing shortage by increasing access to competency-based nursing education. The prioritization and investment in education would offset current healthcare costs, which is approximately 18% of the U.S. GDP.

State Policy Playbook

State and local policymakers are uniquely positioned to accelerate change in educational practice. WGU’s policy playbook shares recommendations around these five education policy priorities:  

  • Reimagining higher education
  • Personalized learning
  • Affordable, accessible, and equitable pathways to opportunity
  • Building on-ramps to work
  • Whole-learner support services

You can download the entire playbook or find the individual sections below.

State Policy Playbook Sections

Western Governors University’s Removing Barriers for Working Learners series is intended to capture the central public policy lessons learned through Western Governors University’s (WGU) history of serving learners—particularly working learners—and is reinforced by our experiences over the past few years.

We are not yet post-pandemic, but this much is clear: learning is no longer a one-and-done journey with graduation as the end goal. Higher education must be an accessible tool to upskill and reskill throughout an individual’s life. It must serve as an investment that propels learners forward to completed credentials and new opportunities. This renewed vision for higher education can help reinvigorate the promise of higher education as a gateway to success and lifelong opportunity—for all students, anytime, anywhere, and in any stage of life.

 

It is time to shift from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” model, which assumes students attend a place-based institution immediately upon graduating high school, to continuous lifelong learning accessible to all learners everywhere. To meet students where they are, higher education must become more responsive. Policymakers can help ensure systems are designed to adapt to learners’ needs so that no matter the realities they face, they have affordable options that provide them with the opportunity to succeed. 

 

Higher education can and should be affordable for all learners. With the average increase in the annual cost of college outpacing the growth of family income or state investment, an affordable higher education has become more of a dream than a reality for far too many. Policymakers must continue to confront and stem rising institutional costs through financial literacy and responsible borrowing, so students understand the cost of their education and return on their investment. 

 

Learners have always deserved educational opportunities aligned with workforce needs and employment opportunities, but the significant rise in the cost of higher education has made this alignment even more critical. For many individuals contemplating college or workers considering reskilling or upskilling, calculating the return on investment—not only of money but also of time—is crucial. We must bring government, businesses, education leaders, and other relevant partners to the table to devise solutions that bridge education and work. 

 

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and its incredible disruption, many learners did not or could not complete their education, and the impact on those individuals—and society as a whole—comes at a high cost. Federal relief funds from the COVID-19 pandemic created a new focus on wraparound support and provided unexpected added resources. Both during and beyond this crisis, it will be up to policymakers to ensure that the emphasis on learner support services persists and to recognize that working learners need support just like their younger classmates.

 

Collaborate With Us

WGU's Public Policy Team works on issues related to removing barriers for working learners. If you'd like to join the conversation, please reach out.