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WGU Tennessee Celebrates Four Years of Supporting Drive to 55

News Brief - 7/17/17

State-endorsed online, nonprofit university points to milestones as signs of early success

NASHVILLE — WGU Tennessee — a nonprofit, online university launched by Gov. Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly to support the Drive to 55 — is celebrating four years of providing quality, affordable education to working adults across the state.

“WGU Tennessee offers adults a flexible and affordable path to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industries that are critical to Tennessee’s workforce needs,” Haslam said. [It] is playing a role in our success because it has an innovative approach to higher education.”

The university’s innovative approach, known as competency-based learning, is a big reason why it has seen early success — especially among working adults with busy schedules. The school measures competencies rather than time spent in a classroom, allowing students to move at a quicker pace.

“WGU Tennessee provided me with an exceptional educational experience,” said David Statum, one of the first students to enroll in WGU Tennessee in 2013. “I was able to save thousands of dollars in student loans when I completed my master’s degree last fall. It is definitely the best economical choice for students interested in earning degrees and furthering their careers.”

The state-endorsed university, which officially launched July 9, 2013, has achieved several milestones in its first four years, including:

  • Enrolling more than 3,350 students and conferring more than 2,100 degrees
  • Employing more than 100 Tennesseans since launching
  • Forming more than 40 partnerships with companies and institutions across the state, including partnerships with all 13 of Tennessee’s community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT)
  • Awarding more than $1.3 million in scholarship funding to Tennesseans
  • Launching Fulfilling the Promise — an initiative empowering Tennessee Promise and TN Reconnect graduates to earn affordable bachelor’s degrees at WGU Tennessee

“We’ve been able to accomplish some incredible things these past four years, and expect to see accelerated growth in the years to come,” said WGU Tennessee Chancellor, Dr. Kimberly Estep. “As adult learners take advantage of tuition-free associate’s degrees through the TN Reconnect Act, WGU Tennessee will be there to provide an affordable, high-quality option for those looking to pursue bachelor’s degrees.”

In addition to these accomplishments, Western Governors University, the national entity of which WGU Tennessee is affiliated, has not raised its already-low tuition of roughly $3,000 per semester the past nine years — a feat that no other university in Tennessee can tout. The national branch also established a Responsible Borrowing Initiative (RBI) in 2013, which has led to a 41 percent reduction in student debt for its students across the country.

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