AUSTIN – Nonprofit online Western Governors University (WGU) announced the launch of its Equitable Access Initiative. The initiative aims to help remove barriers that might otherwise keep people—especially those from historically underserved populations—from accessing higher education, such as job loss, changes in childcare and schooling, health concerns, and overall uncertainty from the pandemic. For millions of American workers, upskilling and reskilling is the best investment to prepare for a post-pandemic economy.
As part of this effort, WGU’s Board of Trustees designated $6 million in funding, which will assist new and existing students through three key financial support mechanisms:
- The WGU Resiliency Grant assists new students who are experiencing unforeseen financial struggles by offering them up to $4,000 that can be used for tuition, fees, and instructional materials to allow them to pursue their academic goals. The scholarship is frontloaded to cover $2,500 in the first six-month term and $750 for two subsequent terms—incentivizing students who already have some college credits to accelerate their degree path through the university’s competency-based education model.
- The WGU Opportunity Grant supports new students who lack access to federal or state financial aid by offering them up to $10,000 (applied over four six-month terms) that can be used for tuition, fees, and instructional materials. At $2,500 per term, the grant covers approximately 70 percent of the total cost of most degree programs for students who graduate in two years or less.
- WGU’s Online Access Scholarship provides students who lack reliable broadband access with free high-speed internet service for the duration of their degree programs while also supplying them with refurbished laptops. The internet service is not restricted to a device, allowing students’ family members to use the Wi-Fi for essential functions, such as accessing healthcare and applying for jobs.
“At WGU, we believe that while talent is universal, access to opportunity is not. That’s why we have made a commitment to increase access to education, making it possible for individuals to improve their lives and the lives of their families by earning a college degree that fits their life,” said Scott Pulsipher, President of WGU. “The tools within WGU’s Equitable Access Initiative are key in helping students have access to education, and thus access to opportunity.”
Tuition for most degree programs at WGU is $7,000 or less per year, and students are eligible to supplement tuition-based grants with the Online Access Scholarship, allowing them to earn degrees for little to no out-of-pocket costs in many cases.
“There are more than two million people and 32 percent of rural Texans who lack access to basic broadband or internet connection. This lack of access and need for financial support means many potential students have to forgo their dreams of higher education to advance in their careers,” said Dr. Darrin Q. Rankin, WGU Texas Chancellor. “That’s why this initiative is so important. Education is the ultimate equalizer and ultimate uplifter and WGU Texas is committed to ensuring more Texans have access to high quality, affordable and attainable programs.”
To learn more about WGU’s Equitable Access Initiative, please visit wgu.edu/access.