Western Governors University: Helping Displaced Students Finish What They Started

Large enough to help at scale. Personalized enough to help each student.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left 20 million college students nationwide unsure of how they will achieve their goals. For those facing the worst-case scenarios—closure of either their degree programs or their entire schools— an unexpected, urgent search for a plan B will add layers of stress and uncertainty to the other financial, emotional, and health impacts of the pandemic.

Western Governors University Stands Ready to Help

Nonprofit, regionally accredited WGU has the experience, the resources, and the structure to help displaced students from at-risk institutions complete their degrees.

Experience: The World’s Most Student-Centric University

The nation’s largest all-online institution, WGU has been providing high-quality, student-centric higher education built on technology as a teaching tool—not just a delivery method—for more than two decades. WGU primarily serves adult students with previous college experience and can work with institutions to ensure their students’ credits will transfer—so they can cross the finish line, no matter how far along they are.

  • Among the 46,718 undergraduate students who matriculated at WGU from July 1, 2019–June 30, 2020, 98.2% transferred some existing credit into their degree programs. On average, each transferred 42 credits, starting their WGU program more than a third of the way to a baccalaureate degree. Over a third (34%) of transfer students started their programs with half or more of their requirements completed, and 17% transfer two-thirds or more of their required credits.
  • WGU has more than 123,000 current students in all 50 states, with 92% saying they are satisfied with WGU (including 59% saying they’re very satisfied).

Resources and Infrastructure: Built for This Moment

WGU has been providing students an alternative to the traditional classroom experience since its founding. Built to be different, WGU is well-suited to these changing times.

  • Students progress as quickly as they are able. Quick learners, hard workers, and students with previous knowledge and experience can—and frequently do—accelerate through coursework, finishing well ahead of schedule and, due to a subscription-price model of less than $4,000 per six-month term, reduce their total cost. Full-time students who no longer have physical classes to attend, furloughed or laid-off workers, and individuals who need the flexibility to achieve a credential without restrictions of a time- based class structure will benefit from this model.
  • A disaggregated faculty built on a mentoring model provides tailored, personalized, one-on-one support and instruction to students at both the course and program levels. Each student feels as though the university was created for her or him.
  • A $600,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—a long-time proponent of WGU—will provide financial resources to help WGU serve displaced students, help students recover from the damage COVID-19 has inflicted on their educational pursuits, and fill the gaps caused by inequitable access to education.

Structure: A Nationwide Solution to a Localized Problem

WGU is uniquely poised to provide a safe harbor for students in any number of situations caused by the pandemic—from systems and institutions of many kinds.

  • Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), which shares WGU’s penchant for increasing equitable access and attainment of educational credentials.
  • Based in Utah as a non-profit, WGU has authorizational approval through the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) to educate students physically located in any other state.
  • Able to leverage existing relationships and resources to provide student-by-student problem-solving.

Learn more at wgu.edu.


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