With millions of American workers facing the urgent need for retraining or skills for a post-pandemic economy, non-profit Western Western Governors University announced the launch of its Equitable Access Initiative.
The initiative aims to remove barriers that could otherwise prevent people – especially those from historically underpopulated populations – from gaining access to higher education.
“This is an extraordinary effort to help individuals face challenging times,” said WGU Regional President Rick Benbow, who oversees WGU Nevada. “We strive for equal opportunities for Nevada, and know that these scholarships and our affordable online education model are perfect for those seeking quality degrees in highly sought-after career areas.”
As part of this effort, the WGU Board of Trustees designated $ 6 million in funding, which will assist new and existing students through three key financial aid mechanisms.
The WGU Resiliency Grant helps new students experiencing unforeseen financial battles by offering them up to $ 4,000 that can be used for tuition, fees and instructional materials. The scholarship is frontloaded to cover $ 2,500 during the first six-month period and $ 750 for two consecutive periods, which stimulates 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 do not have 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 semester, the grant covers about 70% of the total cost of most degree programs for graduate students within two years.
WGU’s Online Access Scholarship provides students who lack reliable broadband access with free high-speed Internet during their educational programs while providing them with refurbished laptops. The Internet service is not limited to one device, enabling students’ family members to use Wi-Fi for important functions, such as accessing care and applying for jobs.
“At WGU, we believe that while talent is universal, access to opportunities is not,” said WGU President Scott Pulsipher. “This is why we are committed to increasing access to education, which enables individuals to improve their lives and the lives of their families by obtaining a university degree that suits their lives. The tools within WGU’s fair access initiative are the key to helping students gain access to education and thus access to opportunities. ”
Tuition for most education programs at WGU is $ 7,000 or less per year, and students are eligible to supplement tuition-based grants with the Online Access Scholarship, which allows them to earn degrees for little or no cost in many cases.
“We have seen an increase in the demand for financial aid from those who want to earn a degree to better position themselves for career success when the economy and the labor market improve but lack the means to achieve their academic goals due to common obstacles, many of which are more prominence due to the pandemic, says WGU fellow Amanda Savage. “We are working with partners and potential funders to increase the support we can offer and to maintain the initiative as the long-term effects of the pandemic are felt by many.”
To learn more about WGU’s Equitable Access Initiative, visit wgu.edu/access