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February 14, 2023

Governor Polis Signs Proclamation Recognizing Goal of Expanding Access to Higher Education for Working Learners in Colorado

Governor Jared Polis signed a proclamation Feb. 6 recognizing Colorado Western Governors University to create opportunity and improve access to higher education for working learners.

DENVER, CO (Feb. 13, 2023)-Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a proclamation Feb. 6 recognizing the state's partnership with Western Governors University (WGU), whose mission to create pathways to opportunity and improve access to higher education for working learners in Colorado.  

The WGU Colorado partnership supports learning opportunities for the more than 700,000 Coloradans who have college credits but no degree. WGU provides Colorado residents with a competency-based approach to learning that allows them to use their prior education, training, and experience to complete their degree on their time, in less time, and at a lower cost. 

"We are continuing to invest in Colorado's strong workforce, making sure Coloradans have the skills and resources they need to thrive, and WGU is an important part of that work," said Gov. Polis. "WGU is an essential provider of affordable, higher education, creating more opportunities for students to get the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workforce and in life."

WGU was founded in 1997 by a bipartisan group of 19 U.S. governors to address a growing need for an educated workforce, including then-Colorado Governor Roy Romer, who joined Governor Polis for the signing. Governor Romer was instrumental in establishing WGU’s competency-based education model and is a longtime champion of the university. Since its founding, WGU has grown to be the leading nonprofit, online, competency-based university in the United States. More than 6,700 Coloradans have graduated from WGU. Nearly 55% of WGU students in Colorado are from one or more historically underserved populations, including large numbers of rural residents, first-generation college students and low-income Coloradans.  

 “As a pilot, Governor Romer was more interested in whether an individual could successfully land a plane than where they learned the skill. This was his inspiration, which later led him to found WGU and influenced its competency-based education model,” said WGU President Scott Pulsipher. “Governor Romer, Governor Polis and Colorado are icons of WGU’s innovation in higher education, and today we reaffirm and expand our commitment to provide additional pathways to opportunity for Coloradans.” 

The proclamation recognizes WGU’s collaborations with employers and employee organizations in Colorado to help meet workforce needs as well as the university’s work with the state’s community college systems to ensure credits transfer. Additionally, the proclamation called out WGU’s work to provide dislocated workers, veterans, underserved populations, and other Coloradans pathways to higher education degrees for workforce pipelines. The university also supports the work of Colorado’s Workforce Centers and is included on Colorado’s Education and Training Provider List (ETPL). 

WGU specializes in serving students who are working learners, 82% of whom work full time while enrolled and have an average age of 33 in Colorado. The university offers more than 60 workforce-aligned bachelor’s and master’s degree programs through its College of Information Technology, College of Business, School of Education, and Leavitt School of Health.  

Kaitlyn Heaton is the first recipient of the WGU Colorado Roy Romer Opportunity Scholarship and was also honored at the proclamation signing.   

“I’m thrilled the university sees my potential and believes in me enough to award me this scholarship. It's an honor to be the first recipient of the scholarship named for Governor Romer,” said Heaton. “In Colorado, students have distinct identities and needs – and WGU is an excellent option for students who prefer an online, competency-based option. For me, WGU fits my busy life and allows me to study and learn while growing my career. I appreciate all that Governor Polis and Governor Romer have done – and are doing – to support WGU and students like me.” 

New students or returning graduates who live in Colorado and enroll at WGU are eligible to apply for the scholarship. Valued at up to $4,000, it will be credited to recipients at $1,000 per term for up to four terms. It will be applied to WGU’s already-low, flat-rate tuition, which is currently about $3,800 per six-month term for most programs.  Students can learn more at

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