For slightly more than the cost of a CSU, you can attend University of Arizona, Washington State University, Colorado State University, University of Nevada, and hundreds of other western colleges?all thanks to WUE and WICHE. WUE and WICHE might not be common household names, they will be after you read on.
First, let's start with WICHE and what that means. WICHE, or the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, comprises 16-member states that work collaboratively to expand educational access to students living in the Western region of the country. The 16-member states comprise: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States.
WUE, (pronounced "woo-wee") is the Western Undergraduate Exchange and has been operating since 1987. It is coordinated by WICHE. WUE, according to their website, "? is a regional tuition-reciprocity agreement that enables students from WICHE states to enroll in more than 150 participating two-and four-year public institutions at 150 percent of the enrolling institution's resident tuition." Students must apply for WUE and it is encouraged that they apply early, as many institutions limit the number of WUE awards they offer each year. If, however, you do qualify and are awarded the WUE tuition rate, the amount of tuition reduction varies from institution to institution ? and this too can vary from year to year.
I have attended a few WUE conferences over the years and when asked why each institution doesn't follow the same qualifying standards, the advice usually given is to check with each individual institution's website to receive the most up-to-date information. The folks that maintain the WUE website even admitted that sometimes their information is out of date.
Here are a few additional pieces of information to offer ? but remember to verify the rules with your respective WUE institution, as their information can change each year.
- If you are awarded the WUE discounted tuition rate, you are usually guaranteed two
years if it is from a two-year institution and four years if it is from a four-year institution. Students applying must qualify (they must have a certain GPA, sometimes even a minimum SAT or ACT score to be eligible). And, to keep the discounted tuition rate, they must maintain a certain GPA (again, double check the rules).
- Last year, approximately 31,000 students were awarded the WUE discounted tuition rate and saved $235 million by enrolling in the WUE program.
- Similar to in-state tuition for out-of-state residents, you may not establish residency while a student and then apply to the WUE program. You either qualify or you don't at the time of admissions.
- You are not automatically awarded WUE. You must apply and meet the WUE institution's admissions criteria. Make sure you request to be considered for the WUE program at the time you apply for admission.
For a full list of participating WUE institutions their website.
Note that some institutions offer the discounted tuition rate to transfer students!