Nonprofit, online university creates new support programs for students facing limited broadband access, unemployment and other COVID-related financial concerns.
COLUMBUS, OH – In response COVID-19’s economic challenges, which could discourage Ohioans from pursuing their dreams of higher education and a better career, Western Governors University Ohio (WGU Ohio) has doubled-down on its commitment to affordable education by expanding scholarships and other financial support for impacted students.
By creating new scholarships and grant opportunities specific to pandemic challenges, the online, competency-based university was able to award approximately 50 scholarships totaling more than $100,000 in aid.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique financial challenges for many Ohioans seeking higher education, current students as well as those hoping to start work toward a degree,” said WGU Ohio Chancellor K. L. Allen. “While WGU Ohio already offers a robust range of financial aid, we know we must do more to help students struggling in this unprecedented crisis. Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to an affordable degree that will open doors to rewarding, in-demand jobs and help them take care of their families.”
The grant aid from WGU Ohio helped Cambridge resident Jennifer Gentry fund her dream of getting a four-year degree. Gentry lost her job as an occupational therapy assistant in April 2020 and plans to complete a degree in healthcare management this fall.
Gentry, 47, plans to receive a degree in healthcare management this fall. She was able to fund some of her education with a $2,500 Resiliency Grant from WGU, which was offered last year to help students who have unforeseen financial struggles due to the pandemic.
The WGU grant, for students who were affected financially by the pandemic, made going back to school “really work,” Gentry said.
WGU Ohio’s new financial supports are tailored specifically to address financial challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. They include:
Online Access Scholarship: Having reliable access to the internet is an ongoing challenge, creating a problem that affects an estimated 700,000 homes in Ohio’s inner cities and rural regions. This scholarship covers the cost of ongoing broadband internet in the home so that students can pursue higher education in a remote setting.
Resiliency Grant: This grant, which can be used for tuition, fees and instructional materials, assists new WGU students with unforeseen financial struggles.
These new resources build on WGU Ohio’s existing range of scholarships and grants that make earning a fully accredited degree at the nonprofit, online university even more affordable. And this support can often be supplemented by military and other federal financial aid, for which many WGU Ohio students may qualify.
In 2018, Ohio became the eighth state to partner with Western Governors University, a collaborative of state governors who saw – more than 20 years ago – the transformative power of competency-based education as a way to help close the skills gap and help busy working adults pursue in-demand jobs in healthcare, nursing, business, teaching, and information technology. Today, more than 4,200 students are enrolled in bachelor’s and master’s degree programs at WGU Ohio.