SALT LAKE CITY, Nov. 1, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As nontraditional students struggle with the high cost of college and staggering student debt, Western Governors University (WGU) continues to demonstrate that it is possible to earn a respected degree without excessive debt. WGU, where tuition of $6,000 per year for most programs has not increased since 2008, was presented with a WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award for its Responsible Borrowing Initiatives.
These initiatives, implemented in 2013, have reduced student borrowing at WGU by 41%, a savings of $400 million in student borrowing. For more than a decade, the award has been presented by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) to colleges, universities, and organizations who implement exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education. Responsible borrowing at WGU focuses on helping students understand student loans and encouraging them to borrow only what they need. All students who apply for financial aid receive a personalized Financial Aid Plan, which recommends that students borrow only their "unmet direct costs"—tuition and fees minus any grants or scholarships. The personalized plan includes information about cost of attending WGU as well as links to financial aid tools and resources. In the three years since this program was implemented, 65% of borrowers accepted the recommendation to borrow less, and another 10% declined loans altogether. By simply providing useful information, WGU was able to significantly change student behavior and reduce borrowing.