Complete Guide to the Western Undergraduate Exchange


Complete Guide to the Western Undergraduate Exchange

Published February 29, 2024 | Last Updated April 1st, 2024 at 08:50 am


If you live in a western state, you may qualify for a tuition discount at participating out-of-state colleges. Here is your guide to the Western Undergraduate Exchange.

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?

What States Are in the Western Undergraduate Exchange?

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) enables students from 15 states and one territory to enroll in undergraduate programs outside of their home state at a reduced tuition rate. The participating states are:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Hawaii
  6. Idaho
  7. Montana
  8. Nevada
  9. New Mexico
  10. North Dakota
  11. Oregon
  12. South Dakota
  13. Utah
  14. Washington
  15. Wyoming

In addition, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands participates in the program.

What Colleges Participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange?

More than 160 colleges participate in the WUE, but some schools in these states do not, and some may have restrictions or limited offerings for WUE students. Prospective students should check with the specific institution and program for participation details and eligibility requirements.

Here is the full list of participating WUE colleges.

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.

How Do I Apply for a WUE Tuition Discount?

Applying for a Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) tuition discount can significantly reduce the financial burden of attending college out-of-state. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the application process:

1. Research Participating Institutions

Not all colleges and universities in WUE member states participate in the WUE program, and those that do may not offer the discount for all their programs. Start by researching which institutions and programs participate in WUE. This information is available on the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) website or the specific college’s website.

2. Understand the Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria for WUE discounts can vary by institution. Generally, you must be a resident of one of the WUE states or territories. Some schools may have additional requirements, such as minimum GPA or test scores. Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria before applying.

3. Check the Application Process for Your Chosen School

The application process for a WUE discount varies by institution. Some schools automatically consider all out-of-state applicants for the WUE rate, while others require a separate WUE application. Check the admissions section of your chosen institution’s website for specific instructions.

4. Submit Your Application Early

Some institutions have limited WUE spots available and allocate them on a first-come, first-served basis. To increase your chances of receiving a WUE tuition discount, submit your application to the institution as early as possible.

5. Indicate Your Interest in WUE

If the institution requires a separate application or indication of interest in the WUE rate, make sure to complete this step. This might involve checking a box on the admission application or submitting a separate form expressing your interest in WUE.

6. Follow Up

After submitting your application, follow up with the admissions office to ensure your application is complete and has been considered for the WUE discount. This is also a good time to ask any additional questions you may have about the program or your eligibility.

7. Accept and Understand the Conditions

If you are awarded a WUE tuition discount, be sure to understand the conditions. Some institutions may require you to maintain a certain GPA or complete a minimum number of credits per semester to continue receiving the discount.

By following these steps and carefully preparing your application, you can maximize your chances of securing a WUE tuition discount, making your dream of studying in another state more affordable. Remember to regularly check the institution’s website for the most current information and deadlines.

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.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

College Countdown Gift Ideas for Seniors

What I Wish I Knew Before College

Colleges With High Acceptance Rates




In this article:

Upcoming Events

Similar Articles for You

Dream School Too Expensive? Consider Other Options — Or It Will Cost You


Dream School Too Expensive? Consider Other Options — Or It Will Cost You

A recent post in the Paying for College 101 Facebook Group mentioned a student who was admitted to her dream...

Dear Roadie, My Daughter Wants Me to Spend a Small Fortune Decorating Her Dorm Room. How Much Is Too Much?


Dear Roadie, My Daughter Wants Me to Spend a Small Fortune Decorating Her Dorm Room. How Much Is Too Much?

Dear Roadie, My daughter tells me that all her friends are putting a lot of effort and money into decorating...

6 Types of Insurance for College Students and How to Save on Them

College Life

6 Types of Insurance for College Students and How to Save on Them

Students have multiple insurance options when they head off college. Most have health insurance, but many families may not be...

Tools & Services Recommended for You

There may come a time when you realize you can’t do it all alone. Use any of the many tools in our toolbox to assist you on the road to college.

Become a Member

At Road2College you’ll find everything you need to make the admissions and paying for college process less stressful and more transparent.


Explore R2C Insights™ — your source for finding affordable colleges and merit scholarships.


Get coaching on admissions and college financing.


Join Road2College where parents and experts work together to inform and inspire college-bound families.