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What is the Western Undergraduate Exchange? What Schools Participate?

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The Western Undergraduate Exchange allows students to attend out-of-state schools at a reduced tuition rate. On average, students save $9,000 a year in tuition to an out-of-state school, which means you don’t have to limit your options to schools in your home state.


Read on to find out what it takes to be eligible and which schools participate in this program! Want to know your real chances at hundreds of schools? Calculate your chances right now for free.


Western Undergraduate Exchange: A Quick Overview


The Western Undergraduate Exchange is a tuition reduction program administered by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). It is not a need-based tuition program, which means that many students can take advantage of a more affordable out-of-state education.


WUE (pronounced woo-wee!) allows out-of-state students to receive a significant tuition discount; they often pay no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate, compared to a regular out-of-state tuition rate than can be 300% of the the in-state rate. For example, California residents pay around $5,742 for tuition at California State University. WUE students pay $8,613 for tuition, while other out-of-state students pay $17,622 for tuition.


Each participating school is allowed to administer the WUE tuition reduction according to their own rules. You’ll need to check the admissions or financial aid site of the school you’re interested in to make sure you know what your school requires. For example:


  • Many schools offer the WUE rate to transfer students, but some don’t.


  • They tend to give you the award for your projected degree completion (whether it’s 2-years or 4-years) but they may have additional requirements, such as maintaining a certain GPA or needing to reapply.


  • As a general rule, you’ll need to request WUE before you start your first semester.


How Do You Apply for the Western Undergraduate Exchange?


To be eligible, you must live in one of the WICHE member states and attend a participating school in another WICHE state (not your home state). Here’s a complete list of the WICHE member states:


  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Guam
  • Hawai’i
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wyoming


You’ll apply for WUE through the school you plan to attend. As we mentioned earlier, each school is allowed to administer WUE according to their own rules. Some schools require that you complete a separate form, while others simply have you check a box on their general university application form. You’ll also need to make sure that the school doesn’t have additional exclusions; some schools exclude high-demand majors from participating in WUE.


As an example, the University of Hawai’i Manoa has no separate application, but they will notify you if you qualified for WUE in your acceptance letter. If you feel that you are eligible but were given the regular out-of-state tuition, you’re free to contact them about your WUE status, but it may have been due to one of the following exclusions:


  • Those who already have received a bachelor’s degree
  • Unclassified status
  • Students participating in A Semester In Hawaiʻi (ASH) exchange program


Here’s another example: Eastern Oregon University requires that you submit your application by their February 1 Priority Deadline to be considered for WUE. In order for the award to be automatically renewed each year, you need to enrolled full-time and remain in good standing.


The bottom line? Be sure to do your research when it comes to making sure that you’ve met any additional requirements that your school has.

List of Participating Schools


This list will help you quickly figure out if one of your top choices is a WUE school!


  • Adams State University
  • Arizona State University | ASU
  • Black Hills State University | BHSU
  • Boise State University | BSU
  • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona | Cal Poly Pomona
  • California State University Channel Islands | CSU Channel Islands
  • California State University San Marcos | CSUSM
  • California State University, Bakersfield | CSU Bakersfield
  • California State University, Chico | CSU Chico
  • California State University, Dominguez Hills | CSUDH
  • California State University, East Bay | CSU East Bay
  • California State University, Northridge | CSUN
  • California State University, Sacramento | Sacramento State
  • California State University, San Bernardino | CSUSB
  • California State University, Stanislaus | Stanislaus State
  • Central Washington University | CWU
  • College of Southern Nevada | CSN
  • Colorado Mesa University
  • Colorado State University | CSU
  • Colorado State University–Pueblo | CSU Pueblo
  • Dakota State University | DSU
  • Dickinson State University | DSU
  • Dixie State University | DSU
  • Eastern New Mexico University | ENMU
  • Eastern Oregon University | EOU
  • Eastern Washington University | EWU
  • Evergreen State College
  • Great Basin College
  • Humboldt State University | HSU
  • Lewis–Clark State College
  • Metropolitan State University
  • Minot State University | MSU
  • Montana State University | MSU
  • Montana State University Billings | MSU Billings
  • Montana State University–Northern | MSU–Northern
  • Montana Tech of the University of Montana | Montana Tech
  • Nevada State College | NSC
  • New Mexico Highlands University | NMHU
  • New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology | New Mexico Tech
  • New Mexico State University | NMSU
  • Northern Arizona University | NAU
  • Northern New Mexico College
  • Northern State University | NSU
  • Oregon Institute of Technology | Oregon Tech
  • Portland State University | PSU
  • Snow College
  • Sonoma State University | SSU
  • South Dakota State University
  • Southern Oregon University | SOU
  • Southern Utah University | SUU
  • University of Alaska Anchorage | UAA
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks | UAF
  • University of Alaska Southeast
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, Merced | UC Merced
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs | UCCS
  • University of Colorado Denver | CU Denver
  • University of Hawaii at Hilo | UH Hilo
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa | UH Manoa
  • University of Hawaii Maui College
  • University of Hawaii–West Oahu | UHWO
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Montana
  • University of Montana Western | UMW
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas | UNLV
  • University of Nevada, Reno
  • University of New Mexico | UNM
  • University of Northern Colorado | UNC
  • University of South Dakota | USD
  • University of Utah
  • University of Wyoming
  • Utah State University
  • Utah Valley University | UVU
  • Washington State University | WSU
  • Weber State University
  • Western Nevada College
  • Western New Mexico University
  • Western Oregon University | WOU
  • Western State Colorado University
  • Western Washington University | WWU
  • Bismarck State College | BSC
  • Mayville State University | MSU
  • North Dakota State University | NDSU
  • University of North Dakota | UND
  • Valley City State University | VCSU


Tips for Applying


Be sure to review the WUE-specific admissions criteria for each school you’re interested in. Pay attention to any deadlines, additional forms, or majors that might be excluded to make sure that you aren’t caught off-guard during your application process senior year.


Work with a counselor. If you live in a WICHE state, chances are that your high school counselors know about WUE and can not only help you complete the WUE requirements, but they can also help you with the rest of your application. Many schools often ask for a school profile, a letter of recommendation, or a personal statement, and your school counselor is a great place to start to find resources and get the information you need.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


Check out some of our other posts about financial aid:


How to Afford College: Exploring Your Options

No-Loan Colleges: What They Are and a Complete List

Schools that Grant Financial Aid to International Students: A Complete List

Understanding College Costs: FAQs about Financial Aid in Practice

Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.