INDIANAPOLIS – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WGU Indiana today announced the distribution of $90,500 in non-tuition emergency aid to nearly 200 of its high-need students in the Hoosier state. Western Governors University gave an additional $126,500 across WGU’s central region, which includes Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, equaling $217,000 in total for the region. Nationwide, $2.1 million in emergency aid funding went to more than 4,000 enrolled students.
The pandemic has left thousands of students in need of financial assistance. WGU Labs—the online, competency-based university’s research and development arm—established a partnership with Edquity in January to research the impact of emergency aid on student outcomes. As the pandemic’s economic effects became clear, the scope of the partnership expanded quickly in order to provide enough capacity to process thousands of emergency aid requests per week and eventually award the cumulative $2.1 million in funding within a few days' time.
“Equity gaps in higher education opportunities are more prevalent than ever since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, including concerns of the digital divide and financial burdens falling on students and families,” said Alison Bell, WGU Indiana Chancellor and Regional Vice President for Western Governors University. “The university has remained steadfast in its commitment to providing quality education in an affordable and accessible way, and during these times that includes providing a means to secure basic needs—like food, housing and working utilities—and thus allow for continued progress toward degree completion to our highest-need students.”
Seventy 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. Of the more than 4,000 students who received emergency aid: 41% are first-generation college students; 48% reported income under $35,000; and 43% are students of color. The challenges faced by the funded students include:
- 44% with food challenges,
- 59% with housing challenges,
- 66% with children or dependents, and
- 74% with multiple challenges.
WGU Indiana is the state's only fully online, competency-based university and offers more than 60 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, information technology, K–12 education, and health professions, including nursing. A state-based subsidiary of nationally recognized, accredited, nonprofit Western Governors University, WGU Indiana is open to all qualified Indiana residents. For more information on WGU Indiana, visit www.wgu.edu/indiana or follow the university on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.