Submitted by: Margo Colalancia, Director, WICHE Student Exchange Program
Headed out-of-state for a recruiting trip in the West? Bone up on WUE!
Amaze prospective students and their parents with just how affordable study in Big Sky Country can be, thanks to a program called “WUE” that’s been around for almost 30 years. They’ll think they’ve won the lottery!
In 1987, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) a nonprofit higher education interstate compact, forged an agreement with its member states called the “Western Undergraduate Exchange”, or “WUE”. WUE is a multi-lateral, regional agreement and tuition discounting program whereby a resident of a WICHE member state can go to college at a participating public institution in another WICHE state, and pay 1.5 times the resident tuition of the enrolling institution—or less. Most public Montana colleges and universities participate in WUE; check the WICHE website for the full list. Public higher education institutions that are regionally accredited are eligible to participate in WUE. Prospective student applicants from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam are eligible to be considered for the WUE rate.
WUE is the biggest program of its kind the nation; a total of 160 institutions — community colleges and universities – participate in the network. Last year alone (2016-17), more than 38,300 students saved an estimated $341.5 million by paying the reduced WUE rate, instead of full nonresident tuition. Depending on where a student’s from and where they want to enroll, earning a degree in Montana may cost about the same or less than they would pay if they study in their home state! Last year Montana colleges and universities attracted 2,760 students (and their WUE tuition dollars!) from other WICHE states.
Talk to your admissions director to find out your college or university’s WUE enrollment strategy and application guidelines. Some institutions use the savings to entice nonresidents to enroll in difficult-to-fill majors. Conversely, some high-demand majors may not be available at the WUE rate. Institutions can also elect to offer the WUE discounted tuition to only the most academically qualified applicants, to attract the brightest students in the region, which also boosts their graduation and retention rates. Others offer it to any qualified student from a WICHE member state. WUE also helps an institution diversify its student body. The more regional and ethnically diverse their students are, the richer the learning experience for all! Some use WUE to attract academically qualified athletes in the region.
Before you go, check with your admissions director and know your WUE eligibility requirements and your eligible majors!
Margo COLALANCIA | Director, Student Exchange
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)
3035 Center Green Drive, Suite 200 | Boulder, CO 80301
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.wiche.edu/sep