An education bargain

Western Undergraduate Exchange students get 'fantastic deal'

November 30, 2015
Western Undergraduate Exchange students
Western Undergraduate Exchange students

They come from Alaska and Arizona, from Nevada and North Dakota, from Washington and Wyoming—and points in between. They are the students at CU Denver in the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) program, and they may be getting one of the best educational bargains in the country.

“It’s a fantastic deal for students from out of state who want to study at CU Denver,” said Catherine Wilson, director of Undergraduate Admissions. “WUE students pay 150 percent of what a Colorado resident would pay for tuition, which saves them more than $6,000 a year off the regular non-resident tuition rate.”

WUE is available to admitted full-time freshmen and transfer students who are legal residents of 14 states and the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands. Unlike some colleges offering WUE, CU Denver allows WUE students to study in all undergraduate on-campus programs. For students around the country who dream of going to college in a different state, WUE could make that dream possible.

“The advantage of coming to Denver is that it’s a top 10 city for young adults with incredible internships for our students and job opportunities after they graduate,” Wilson said. “For many students, those opportunities don’t exist in the states where they grew up.”

For some students, WUE is life-changing. Here are some of their stories.

Josh Blair

cud_students_WUE_203smHails from: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Studying: Digital design, specializing in motion design in the College of Arts & Media

Why WUE? “In New Mexico, I was bored during the last two years of high school. I am never bored in downtown Denver. It’s always fun and there are always new adventures to be had.”

Best part of WUE: “I didn’t know about digital design until I came to college. CU Denver opened my eyes to new possibilities and opportunities. Also, with extra scholarships on top of WUE, I have been able to get tuition down close to an in-state rate. And the people of Colorado are so friendly!”

Dream job: “I would love to do motion graphics for TV commercials and advertising or trailers for movies in the film industry.”

Would your life have gone in a different direction without WUE? “Oh, yes! I probably would have become more dedicated to teaching and learning different styles of yoga.”


Lizzie McDermid

cud_students_WUE_196smHails from: Soldotna, Alaska (about three hours south of Anchorage)

Studying: Chemistry in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Why WUE? “Staying in Alaska wasn’t an option because I wanted to get a better education. The chemistry department at CU Denver taught me to formulate study strategies I never would have discovered in a non-challenging chemistry program, and it’s enabled me to find my niche in chemistry. It’s helped me grow as a chemist and as a person.”

Best part of WUE: “It is a great program because it gave me the opportunity to leave Alaska for the first time. Some schools made WUE and financial aid an “either-or” deal—either you used WUE, or you received financial aid. CU Denver let me use both WUE and financial aid so I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be here.”

Dream job: “I would like to be a pharmaceutical chemist, making compounds, working in a lab and doing research. I hope to be the boss lady and still get my hands dirty!”

Would your life have gone in a different direction without WUE? “Yes, if you get your degree in Alaska you end up staying there, so I might have worked in the oil fields doing chemical engineering. It definitely would have put a cap on my goals and ambitions.”


Bryson Cayaban

cud_students_WUE_223smHails from: Eleele, Kaua’i

Studying: Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Why WUE? “In high school, I was flying back from a leadership conference on the east coast.
When we needed to make connections in Denver, we were delayed. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Denver, and I saw the campus for the first time. The school is in heart of the city and I fell in love. I couldn’t afford to pay full price, but WUE made it affordable.”

Best part of WUE: “It’s given me the opportunity to explore new places and opened many doors. I like the diversity here. At home, I was surrounded by Asian and Portuguese communities. Here I have networked and become friends with people from around the world.”

Dream job: “I want to work in student affairs at a university so I can help minority students get into college, and I also want to run for office someday.”

Would your life have gone in a different direction without WUE? “Growing up in such an isolated state, I would be a different person. I think I would have tunnel vision, and I would not be aware of other cultures.”


Elexus Yduarte

Hails from: Phoenix, Arizona

Studying: Transferred to CU Denver; studying accounting in the Business School

Why WUE? “I wanted to be independent and live on my own in a new state. I’ve learned things I would have never learned in Phoenix—like how to drive in the rain and snow! Also, I love Denver because there is always something happening. I came to CU Denver for the music programs, but then I fell in love with accounting.”

Best part of WUE: “It’s given me the opportunity for new experiences while I study at the Business School. The Business School is in a great location because you see all the other business majors there and you also feel connected to the city. You get to go to a school you want at a price you can afford.”

Dream job: “I would love to work in accounting in the music industry.”

Would your life have gone in a different direction without WUE? “Definitely. Had I not discovered WUE, I would have stayed in Arizona and never would have known that I love accounting.”