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Op-Ed by Sara Axelson, University of Wyoming Vice President for Student Affairs
There's no hiding from the economic news. Across the country families and higher education officials are concerned about the cost of a university education, and they have good cause to worry. Times are tough. They're balancing their retirement savings against their college savings and wondering how they will be able to afford to send their children to college.
That concern extends to families in Wyoming, many of whom are working on college applications right now for the 2009 academic year.
The University of Wyoming was founded in 1886 to serve the residents of Wyoming. When its doors first opened, annual tuition was $7. We're fortunate that UW officials haven't lost sight of the importance of affordability. While tuition has increased since then, Wyoming residents pay only 17 percent of the actual cost of their education at UW. At the same time, Wyoming has the highest spending per student on higher education in the United States.
As the only public university in Wyoming, part of our mission is to be accessible to Wyoming residents.
Thanks to the vision of Gov. Dave Freudenthal and Wyoming State Legislature in creating the Hathaway Scholarship program, eligible Wyoming students are able to defray a significant portion of the cost of their college education. High-achieving students can earn up to $3,200 in merit aid under Hathaway, and they may qualify for additional scholarships through UW, up to the total cost of attendance.
Students who excel academically are also rewarded with merit-based aid from UW through the President's Promise and Trustees' Pride scholarships. These awards, ranging from $1,000 per year to full tuition, fees, room and board per year, encourage Wyoming's best and brightest to stay and study in Wyoming.
At the same time, undergraduate resident tuition has remained unchanged since 2006, making it among the lowest state university tuitions in the country.
We don't want people to mistake low cost for low quality.
The University of Wyoming benefits from generous support from the governor and the legislature and we're investing in education, both academic talent and updated campus facilities, to meet 21st century learning needs.
The university is aggressively recruiting top faculty in many disciplines, aiming to attract experts in their fields who are looking to join a growing, forward-thinking university. They join the world-class faculty that has been helping Wyoming students achieve great things at the university and beyond.
Currently, UW has $250 million in construction projects under way, which includes expanding and renovating the William R. Coe Library and the College of Business.
UW is also a cultural center in the state, attracting artists and performers who enrich our lives, and share their talents with us.
UW will continue to provide accessibility in rocky economic times, and we will continue to make investments to ensure a world-class educational opportunity for those who study here.
We have much to be proud of in Wyoming. We can be even more proud that its university has and will continue to live up to its mission of accessibility and affordability in these tough economic times.