Wyoming is known for natural beauty – the Rocky Mountains, gushing geysers like Old Faithful, and national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton – but the state’s higher education opportunities are just as remarkable.
Tuition and fees at Wyoming’s postsecondary schools are among the lowest in the nation. This, combined with low student debt and high graduation rates, have earned the state a spot in the U.S. News & World Report’s Top 5 “Best States for Higher Education.”
Indeed, Wyoming has a lot to offer students who are looking to further their education.
Overview of Higher Education in Wyoming
Despite being one of the country’s largest states, Wyoming is home to just 9 degree-granting institutions, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Eight of the schools are public and 1 is a non-profit private school. There are no for-profit schools.
Tuition rates in Wyoming are incredibly low. According to the NCES, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at a 4-year public institution in Wyoming is $4,596, the second-lowest in the nation. That is less than half the national average! For students coming from out of state, it will cost around $14,268, which is more than $12,000 below the national average.
Students coming from nearby western states may also benefit from Wyoming’s low tuition rates, thanks to the state’s partnership with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). WICHE’s Student Exchange Program allows students to enroll in degree programs at any of the 16 participating states and territories for no more than 150% of the in-state tuition rate.
The state of Wyoming is focused on increasing the number of residents who pursue and complete higher education goals. In early 2018, Governor Matthew H. Mead issued an executive order with the following goals:
- 67% of residents ages 25-64 will have a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2025
- 82% of residents ages 25-64 will have a postsecondary certificate or degree by 2040
The governor called upon the state’s 7 community colleges and the University of Wyoming, along with the Wyoming Department of Education and the Wyoming Community College Commission to collaborate and implement a plan to achieve these goals and provide the skilled employees that Wyoming’s businesses need.
About Online Colleges in Wyoming
In 2018 data from the NCES showed 14.2% of undergraduate students in Wyoming were enrolled in fully online degree programs, and another 23.9% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus classes. Those numbers continue to rise as universities increase their online offerings to meet the changing needs of college students.
Today, University of Wyoming (UW) is the state’s leader in online education. They offer more than 40 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as certificate and endorsement programs. UW’s online bachelor’s degrees include programs in business administration, family and consumer sciences, and accounting, as well as an RN/BSN completion program.
At the community college level, Casper College is one of the region’s largest and most comprehensive school systems, and offers tremendous online learning opportunities. Online students earn the same degrees as traditional students, and they follow the same application and financial aid process. Casper offers a dozen fully online associate degree and certificate programs, in fields like accounting, agriculture, health science, and more. Alternatively, the school offers around 50 hybrid degree and certificate programs that are 70-99% online. Examples include anthropology, aviation, entrepreneurship, forensic science, museum/gallery studies, nutrition, pre-optometry, and so on. Hybrid students may take the required in-person courses either at Casper College or at another institution for transfer.
Online learning throughout the state is made easier by WyCLASS, a comprehensive directory of college courses and programs offered online through Wyoming community colleges and UW. The site allows students to search and register for courses easily.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Wyoming
Even with some of the lowest tuition rates in the nation, many students in Wyoming will need financial assistance in order to attend. To receive this assistance, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The FAFSA can open doors to federal, state and even school-based aid, including low-interest loans. It may even be required by the schools to which you apply. So it’s important to fill out the application, even if you don’t believe you will qualify for need-based aid.
You should submit your FAFSA application as early as possible, since much of the aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. You can access the application starting on October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college.
As you fill it out, you will need to include financial information for yourself and your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). The information you provide will determine how much and what type of financial aid is offered to you.
The ideal forms of financial aid are grants and scholarships, because these do not have to be paid back.
Here are some examples of programs available to Wyoming residents:
|Douvas Scholarship||For first-generation American students who will attend a Wyoming community college or UW; Must demonstrate financial need||
|Hathaway Scholarship||For middle and high school students who will attend a Wyoming community college or UW; Must maintain a certain GPA, test scores and class requirements; Four scholarship tiers, plus a need-based scholarship to supplement||
|Wyoming County Commissioners’ Scholarship||Each county commissioner has 3 scholarships to award to students who will attend a Wyoming community college or UW; Award-based on GPA, ACT and extra-curricular involvement
$500 per semester
|Wyoming Homemakers Scholarship||For college sophomores or juniors at UW, a Wyoming community college or trade school; Awarded based on academic achievements, financial need, leadership, citizenship and community involvement||
|Rocky Mountain Coal Mining Engineering Scholarship||For college sophomores or juniors who are preparing for a career in a mining-related field or engineering disciplines and have expressed an interest in Western coal as a career path||
|Lael Harrison Scholarship||For a graduating senior who plans to attend UW; Must be a current Wyoming 4-H member||
|Glen Legler Memorial Scholarship||Essay contest for high school seniors||
You can find more scholarships like these by using scholarship search sites like Fastweb.com. Simply enter some basic information about yourself and the site will match you with dozens of scholarships for which you may apply.
If you are still in need of financial assistance, contact the financial aid office at the school you have chosen. Most institutions have programs – both need and merit-based – to help students bridge that gap.
List of Online Colleges in Wyoming
|Online Colleges in Wyoming||Location||Annual Tuition||Accreditation||Application Fee|
|Casper College||Casper, Wyoming||$2,832||Regional||$0|
|University of Wyoming||Laramie, Wyoming||$5,055||Regional||$40|
Ranked among the top 5 best states for higher education, and with the nation’s lowest tuition rates, Wyoming is the perfect place to pursue a postsecondary degree.