The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) will soon expand to more parts of the country, but could have a negative financial impact on the University of Idaho.
UI did not offer the primary scholarship of WUE until 2016, reducing out-of-state tuition to 150 percent of the in-state rate for students from Washington, Oregon and Alaska applying to UI for 2017, said Dean Kahler, UI’s vice provost for strategic enrollment management.
“We have been selective in choosing states where it made financial sense for us to offer WUEs,” said John Wiencek, UI provost and executive vice president. “WICHE (Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education), a consortium of the western states, feels we are abusing their branding and their program and that it’s not the intention of the program — that if you’re offering WUEs it should be to all western states or none.”
A WUE scholarship can save an out-of-state student more than $12,500 in tuition, potential revenue the university is losing.
To moderate a negative financial impact or even bring in more revenue, UI has methods to change the number of WUE students coming to the university.
“So, we’re thinking let’s open it up, see how many students are coming in. If we find that it’s impacting us in a negative way with respect to revenue, we will raise GPA standards and so we’ll be seeking students with higher academic profiles,” Wiencek said.
Before UI opened WUE to Washington, Oregon and Alaska, Kahler said he, Wiencek and Vice Provost of Finance Brian Foisy first looked at market data.
“Since December of ’16, I’d been looking at price differentials between states — what it costs there and what it costs to go here — and trying to evaluate what could be driving the decline,” Kahler said. “It looked like we were priced out of market.”
Wiencek said the states UI offered WUE to last year were the only ones that made financial sense.
Wieneck said not all states UI will offer WUE scholarships to will have a negative financial impact. He said students from states such as Wyoming and Montana are not likely to come to UI with or without WUE because the universities in those states offer much lower tuition.
“Probably where we will see some negative impact is California students,” Wiencek said. “California students will come here because they simply can’t get into their home schools.”
Wiencek said despite any potential loss in revenue from expanding WUE, the university’s plan will likely yield positive results.
“Unless we actually grow enrollment, we will lose revenue,” Wiencek said. “In the end, we think this could gain momentum in terms of gaining revenue.”
Nishant Mohan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NishantRMohan