The Herald Bulletin

June 25, 2013

Web-based university offers degrees for less


The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Completely online without a brick-and-mortar campus in sight, Western Governors University has kept its tuition prices steady since its Indiana inception in 2010.

WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber said the institution has been able to do so because of the technology it utilizes and the fact instructors teach from home.

Tuition is based on a unique system that allows students to take as many credit hours as they please during a semester for the flat rate of $3,000 -- that’s “the beauty of WGU,” Barber said.

And because it’s all online, students can set their own schedules.

Michael Virgin, of Anderson, bounced from college to college for years until deciding that sitting in a classroom just wasn’t for him. After being laid off in 2008, unable to find another job for two years, he began his education at WGU when it opened.

He likes the flexibility to do his school work whenever he feels like it, as long as it’s turned in on time. A mentor checks in with students once a week to see how they’re doing.

And while Virgin completed 12 credit hours during his first semester, he upped it to 30 during his second.

Paying just $6,000 a year is a great savings, he said. And “a WGU student can definitely have success,” he added.

As President of WGU’s Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, Virgin saw four of his fellow teaching graduates receive job offers in just a week’s time. He graduated with his bachelors of art in education in May and is now going for his masters.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education forecast 900,000 new jobs in the state by 2018. Over half of those will require an advance degree, Barber said.

But Indiana is ranked 42nd in the nation in the percentage of adults with a degree beyond high school.

“It is important for people to go beyond a high school diploma if they want to compete for jobs in Indiana and competitive salaries,” Barber said.

That’s why, she added, WGU was created: to help provide an affordable education to adults. The average age of a WGU student is 37.

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WGU outcomes Western Governor's University employment statistics: ◆ 72 percent of WGU students work full-time while enrolled ◆ 42 percent of graduates report a salary increase resulting from their degree ◆ 34 percent report a new position ◆ 20 percent report a promotion Source: Western Governors University