WGU to grant scholarships for internet access

Published 6:00 am Saturday, January 2, 2021

Western Governors University (WGU) will grant high-speed internet access and devices to Virginia students who need and can’t afford them through its online access scholarship program.

The scholarship program is part of a broader WGU initiative aimed at working with policy makers and private industry to close the digital divide by providing more Americans access to reliable internet in their homes. 

The digital divide — defined by the continuing gulf between those in our society who have access to computer devices and high-speed internet and those who do not — is a critical challenge in Virginia, which is home to more than 3,200 WGU students and 5,300 WGU alumni.

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Commonwealth Connect estimates that 500,000 Virginians live without access to the internet. Broadband internet access is an issue for education in both rural and urban areas of Virginia. An analysis by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia found that one in five Virginia K-12 and college students lack broadband or a computer in the home; that is 60,000 Virginia college students who have no high-speed internet service at home.

Lack of access to reliable internet — particularly amidst a pandemic — can also be a barrier to job growth, and sustaining a strong economy. For those whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic, returning to school to prepare for new career opportunities is critical. However, the loss of income may make it impossible to pay for broadband services students need to return to school. WGU’s Online Access Scholarship will support this need by allowing students to learn from the safety of their homes.

More information on WGU’s Online Access Scholarship is available at www.wgu.edu/access and by calling (385) 428-3125.