Western Governors U offers $125K in scholarships to displaced Concordia students


Dive Brief: 

  • Western Governors University, a nonprofit online institution, is offering scholarships to as many as 50 students affected by the planned closure of Concordia University-Portland, in Oregon. 

  • Awardees will receive up to $2,500 to apply to either a master’s or bachelor’s degree program at the university, which enrolls upward of 120,000 students, for a total of $125,000 in potential scholarship funds. Western Governors’ annual tuition is around $7,000. 

  • The university previously gave scholarships to students impacted by other closures, including at ITT Technical Institute and Ashworth College. 


Dive Insight:

Concordia University-Portland shocked students earlier this month when officials announced it will close at the end of the spring semester. In a statement, Interim President Thomas Ries said that the “university’s current and projected enrollment and finances make it impossible to continue its educational mission.” 

The announcement left many students scrambling to figure out where they will continue their education. More than 50 students have joined a class-action lawsuit alleging that the university misrepresented its financial position, according to local media reports

About 1,500 undergraduates and 3,800 graduate students were enrolled at Concordia in the fall of 2018. Although most undergraduates were campus-based, around 80% of graduate students were online-only. 

The Portland campus is part of a larger network of eight colleges that make up the Concordia University System. Those institutions said they will create pathways for Portland students to continue studying at a Concordia campus. 

The St. Paul, Minnesota campus, for instance, will absorb an accelerated nursing program and allow the students to finish their degrees in Portland.

However, students enrolled in other Concordia nursing programs who can’t enroll in another campus within the system may have to make different plans. 

Western Governors, which offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate nursing programs, said it has not capped the number of relevant transfer credits it will accept. 

It also plans to attend open houses and transfer fairs that Concordia may be planning, Tonya Drake, Western Governors’ vice president for the Northwest region, told Education Dive in an interview. 

Although the students may be able to transfer to another Concordia location, she said, “those options may not be viable for students who are place-bound to Portland.” 

This isn’t the first time Western Governors has stepped in to recruit students from a shuttering program. When Ashworth College, an online education provider, closed one of its nursing programs earlier this year, Western Governors rolled out a new scholarship for up to 100 affected students. 

About 62 former Ashworth students have received a scholarship so far, a Western Governors spokesperson told Education Dive in an email. When the university offered a similar deal to those affected by ITT Tech’s closure, 263 of the for-profit chain’s students received a scholarship. 

Western Governors isn’t the only college to use these recruiting tactics. The for-profit American Sentinel University also offered displaced Ashworth students a discounted tuition rate. And several institutions offered aid to former ITT Tech students, including the Community College of Philadelphia, Tidewater Community College and the Florida Institute of Technology.

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