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WGU Launches Equitable Access Initiative to Remove Barriers for Current and Prospective Students with High Financial Need


February 18, 2021

Redby, Minn. - (Feb. 17, 2021) – Western Governors University (WGU) has announced a new initiative aimed at removing financial barriers that might otherwise keep adults from moving forward with their education and career advancement plans. The fully online, nonprofit university’s Equitable Access Initiative will specifically address job and income loss, internet access issues, health concerns, changes in childcare and schooling, and overall uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of this effort, WGU’s Board of Trustees has designated $6 million in grant and scholarship funding to assist new and existing students. The financial support includes:

• The WGU Resiliency Grant, which assists new students who are experiencing unforeseen financial struggles due to the pandemic 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, which 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, which provides new and current 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.

Tuition for most degree programs at WGU is $7,000 or less per year, and qualified students are eligible to supplement any tuition-based scholarships or grants with the Online Access Scholarship, allowing them to earn their degrees for little to no out-of-pocket costs, in many cases.

“With so many people facing continued challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WGU is taking the necessary steps to provide aid to those who otherwise would be unable to go back to school, helping to ensure everyone has the opportunity to earn a college degree,” said Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Regional Vice President of Western Governors University. “WGU’s mission has always focused on increasing access to affordable, flexible, high-quality college education for adults, and the Equitable Access Initiative will help make earning a degree even more attainable for those looking to strengthen their skills in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To learn more about WGU’s Equitable Access Initiative, please visit

About WGU

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 129,000 students nationwide and has more than 214,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 24 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at


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