Students who don't want to go to college in the state where they live, but are scared off from attending an out-of-state university because of the whopping costs should be aware: There is another option.
The Western Undergraduate Exchange, or WUE, provides reduced out-of-state tuition to students who live in 14 Western states, charging them 150 percent of in-state tuition, which is nearly always cheaper than a school's regular out-of-state rate.
"It's a really good idea for students," said Patty Haddad, a guidance counselor at Incline High School. "The draw for kids is that some just want to get away from here and it allows them to do that for a lot cheaper than some other states."
Students can attend some, but not always all, state schools in the WUE area, which includes: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
For instance, a student can attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa under the WUE for $7,526 less per year than a student coming from a non-WUE state would.
Nevadans could attend Sacramento State University for about $6,600 less than a non-WUE student, and Californians could go to the University of Nevada Las Vegas for $2,632 less.
Works for UNR
Paul Christiansen, a guidance counselor at Truckee High School, said the program benefits Truckee High students who desire to stay close to home at the University of Nevada, Reno.
"UNR is definitely where the biggest majority of our students in the WUE program go," Christiansen said. "Some will go to other Western schools, but most of them go to UNR, which is our closest school."
Christiansen said most students who look out-of-state do so for the school's atmosphere and climate.
"There are a few who may look for majors, but most students say they are interested in the weather and only find out about WUE once we tell them," Christiansen said.
For North Tahoe High School, the story remains the same with where a majority of kids go, said Penny Burney.
"A number of our kids end up taking advantage of WUE and going to UNR since it is our closest home school," Burney said. "For students it's the academics and programs that attract them to WUE schools, for parents it's the price most of the time."
Some state universities, though, don't participate in WUE.
Schools like California's University of California system " which Haddad said many students are interested in, and includes schools like Berkeley " don't participate.
"WUE is actually great for those kids because some of the schools are just as good and don't have near the competition the UC schools do, which can be phenomenal," Haddad said.
Other desination-style schools like the University of Colorado, Boulder, don't participate because they are able to fill their enrollment without WUE's assistance.
Other restrictions, as Christiansen pointed out, deal with the 3.0 GPA high school students must achieve before applying to WUE Universities.
Amanda Frank, a 2008 IHS graduate who is currently attending Portland State University, said the program sounded ideal, but didn't work for her because some WUE schools require students declare a certain major going into their college career.
"In order to be accepted, there is a list of required majors you have to choose from, and I did not want to declare my major as any of those; so I changed my mind and applied for the out of state scholarship that was also available to me and that is the scholarship I ended up accepting," Frank said in a Facebook.com message to the Bonanza.
Some of the best tuition deals to be found in the WUE program are for the University of Oregon ($10,144 worth of savings over regular out-of-state tuition) and Colorado State University ($12,805).
To find out more about WUE, contact your guidance counselor or visit http://wue.wiche.edu/.