What is WUE, and how does it work?

Founded in 1987, the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE, pronounced “woo-ee”) is a regional tuition-discount agreement administered by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WUE enables students from one of 16 WICHE states and territories in the Western U.S. to enroll as nonresidents in 160+ participating public colleges and universities and pay 150 percent (or less) of the enrolling school’s resident tuition—which annually saves students an average of $9,000 each on the cost of nonresident tuition.

How do I apply for reduced WUE tuition, and what are the WUE admissions requirements?

If you're a resident of one of WICHE’s 16 member states/U.S. territories (CNMI and Guam), you may be eligible for reduced tuition rate offered at 160+ participating WUE schools. Apply directly to your chosen WUE college or university (and not to WICHE itself). Some schools have special eligibility requirements or annual WUE admission quotas, found in that school’s WUE profile. If you still have questions, contact the school’s office that administers WUE (admissions, financial aid, or the scholarship office), as indicated on the profile. Some schools automatically consider applicants from a WICHE state for the WUE rate, but many require that applicants request the WUE rate when applying for admission. Check to see if they have a special WUE application.

Search for a WUE school.


Can transfer students use WUE?

The majority of WUE schools accept transfer students, but some only offer the WUE rate to first-year students. Certain schools offer limited majors at the WUE rate to transfer students. Check your chosen school’s profile on the WUE Savings Finder to find out if they offer WUE to transfer students.

If I’m awarded WUE discount tuition, how long is that rate good for, and must I reapply each year?

Most institutions extend the WUE rate to a student for that school’s typical minimum graduation interval (two years for an associate’s degree program, four years for a bachelor’s degree program). Some also require a minimum credit load each term. Some institutions require that you reapply each year; check directly with your school and follow their rules. You must maintain good academic standing to keep the WUE rate.

What, exactly, is my WUE tuition cost? What would I save compared to paying full nonresident tuition?

Each WUE school’s tuition is different, and some schools discount WUE tuition even more than the 150 percent of resident tuition threshold. A helpful illustration: If Best Western University’s resident tuition is $10,000 for the academic year, then your WUE rate would be $15,000 ($10,000 x 1.5). If their nonresident tuition is $25,000, then you’d save $10,000 ($25,000 - $15,000). Estimated savings are posted on each school’s WUE profile; you can get precise up-to-date figures directly from your enrolling WUE school.

Which schools participate in WUE?

160+ public two- and four-year undergraduate WICHE-region college and universities participate in WUE. Use our WUE Savings Finder to find out whether or not a school that you’re interested in participates. Private institutions are not eligible for WUE participation.

I’m a resident of a WICHE state and plan to enroll in a WUE college/university. Do I automatically get the WUE rate?

No. The reduced WUE rate is not automatically awarded to all eligible candidates. Even if you meet the institution’s WUE admissions criteria (which may be more rigorous than its regular admissions criteria), there are no guarantees. Many institutions limit the number of new WUE awards each academic year, so apply early and be sure to request the WUE rate when applying for admission.

If I switch majors, can I still receive the WUE discount?

It depends. If you change from a WUE-eligible major to one excluded from the WUE rate at your school, they may charge you full nonresident tuition for the time you’re enrolled under the WUE-ineligible major. If your new major is WUE-eligible, then it’s not a problem.

I’ve been admitted to a WUE school, but haven’t received word about a WUE discounted rate. What should I do?

Check in directly with your chosen school’s relevant office (admissions, scholarships, or financial aid), whose contact information can be found in the WUE Savings Finder.

Have you received my WUE application?

WICHE itself does not process student applications, so we cannot tell you whether you’ve been awarded the WUE rate. Please check with your school.

WICHE’s role in WUE is to administrate it broadly in partnership with states and institutions.

Which majors and degrees are offered at the WUE rate?

Each participating school decides for itself which majors to offer for WUE. Some offer all or most of their majors at the WUE rate. Others offer only a handful of majors at the discounted rate, due to limited capacity in their higher-demand majors. Check the WUE Savings Finder to see if your major is WUE-eligible at your chosen school.

Where's the WUE application?

There is no common WUE application. Some WUE schools have a special WUE application, or a box you must check to request consideration for the WUE tuition rate.

Do schools offer online degrees at the WUE rate?

Though most do not, a few do (though in some cases at a special rate). You can search for online programs in the WUE Savings Finder or call the school directly for information. 

I just learned about WUE and classes have already started. Is it too late to get WUE?

Probably. Most schools require that you apply for WUE by (if not before) standard pre-term admission deadlines. Though it’s unlikely they’d grant you the discount post-enrollment, you can contact the relevant office at your institution to see if it's possible.

Do community colleges participate in WUE?

70+ public community colleges in the WICHE region participate, but not all. Check the WUE Savings Finder to find out if a particular school participates.

Can I establish residency in the state where I’m enrolled, while I’m paying the WUE rate?

No. If you want to build time towards establishing residency in another state, schools require you to pay the full nonresident tuition until that residency is legally established. Residency policies vary by state (and college/university), so check with your school’s admissions or residency office for guidance.

I already have a bachelor’s degree (or an associate’s). Can I qualify for the WUE discount for a second undergraduate degree?

The WUE program is intended for first-degree undergraduates. However, an enrolling school may consider extending awarding WUE to a student pursuing a second undergraduate degree; contact your chosen school to find out.

Will WUE help me save if I’m enrolling at a public college or university in my home state?

No. Resident tuition in your home state is already less expensive than nonresident tuition, so the WUE discount—while valuable if you decide to study at a WUE school outside your home state—will not further subsidize your resident-tuition rate.

Do schools limit the number of WUE discounts they award?

Many schools do cap the number of WUE awards they issue each year or have earlier admissions deadlines for WUE students. For this reason, it’s important to apply for the WUE discount as early as possible; don’t wait to apply until the school’s final deadline for regular admission.

If I am not from a member WICHE state, can I still enroll as a WUE student?

No. WUE exclusively serves the WICHE region of 16 Western U.S. states and territories, but regional interstate compacts in the Midwest, the South, or the Northeast may be able to fill your needs.

Must I demonstrate financial need to receive the discounted WUE rate?

No. WUE admissions criteria generally do not include financial need.