What is the Western Undergraduate Exchange?


What is the Western Undergraduate Exchange?

Published November 21, 2018 | Last Updated July 23rd, 2023 at 04:23 pm


If your student is pursuing a specific academic program in the Western United States, there may not be a public in-state college or university available that offers the specialty your child is interested in. The cost of tuition at out-of-state schools that do offer the specialty can be prohibitive. Before your child decides to rethink their major and settle for something else, here’s some good news…The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) can help.

What Is the Western Undergraduate Exchange?

The WUE 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.

Through the WUE, public schools agree to charge no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate for specific academic programs, even if the student is from out of state.

(If that sounds steep to you, know this: Out-of-state students can pay as much as 300% more than in-state students at some schools.) Private schools agree to give a 10% discount for specific academic programs.

This arrangement can annually save students an average of $9,000 each on the cost of nonresident tuition.

This is a great way for schools to embrace diversity and enable students from other states to network and engage with professionals in their field of study from other regions.

[What is the Midwest Student Exchange?]

[What is the New England Tuition Break?]

[What is the Academic Common Market?]

How Does the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program Work?

Being a resident does not automatically qualify you.

Many of the WUE-participating colleges and universities have additional criteria such as ACT/SAT test scores or high school GPA. Additionally, some of those schools use WUE as a merit award and set more rigorous criteria for WUE applicants.


Many schools have a cap on the number of discounted WUE seats that they issue each year or have earlier admissions deadlines for WUE students. So, it’s important to apply as early as possible. Don’t wait to apply until the school’s final deadline for regular admission or you might be shut out.

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.

Some schools may exclude high-demand majors from WUE rate eligibility, so it is imperative that students interested in the program verify availability directly with their individual school of choice.

The discount only applies to tuition. Fees are typically standard for residents and nonresidents; they must be paid in addition to tuition.


Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

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