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Tuition program draws students from across the West

December 02, 2010

The student population on Arizona State University’s West campus is getting more geographically diverse, as students from 14 Western states are taking advantage of a program enabling them to pay significantly lower tuition than the standard out-of-state rate to pursue bachelor’s degrees through ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) makes a degree in any New College B.S. or B.A. program available to students from these states at one-and-one-half times the tuition that Arizona residents pay. Participating states include Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Of the 600 new students starting work toward a bachelor’s degree in New College this year, 140 – nearly 25 percent – are from outside Arizona.

Micaela Gamboa is one of New College’s WUE trailblazers. Now a sophomore, Gamboa was drawn to New College from Oceanside, Calif. in 2009. Besides pursuing a double major in psychology and criminal justice, Gamboa serves as a Residential College Peer Leader in Las Casas, the apartment-style residential complex on the West campus. She also volunteers as a New College Ambassador, supporting the college’s recruitment and retention efforts.

“All of my professors are great, and I’ve had the chance to get to know them outside the classroom through my work as a Peer Leader and Ambassador,” Gamboa said. She credits Dhannia Torres, her Peer Mentor last year, for encouraging her to get involved with campus life.

Gamboa expresses no regrets over moving to Arizona to attend college. “For some of my friends who stayed close to home, college feels like high school all over again,” she said. “Coming to ASU gave me the push I needed to start feeling like an independent adult. And the cost of living is definitely lower in Arizona than California. But I’m still only a six-hour drive away from home.”

Gamboa benefitted from taking advantage of resources offered through New College’s Residential College (NCRC) program, whose goal is helping students in Las Casas to find academic and personal success.

“We offer a wide variety of programs and support systems in Las Casas,” said Jenna Graham, New College student support coordinator, who provides leadership for NCRC.

“Along with support and encouragement from Peer Leaders and Peer Mentors, we bring in a tutor from the West campus Student Support Center each Tuesday for a tutoring/study session,” Graham said. “We offer student-friendly cooking classes with help from ARAMARK Higher Education, ASU’s food service contractor. To help students keep up with what’s happening on campus, we also provide weekly email updates about upcoming events and deadlines. In the future, we’d like to do a home-sweet-home event for NCRC students, where they will bring their favorite home-cooked meal to share with other students. This ties in perfectly with the ‘Much Ado About Food’ programming theme we are incorporating into New College activities during the current academic year.”

Creating a “home away from home” atmosphere for all students, from Arizona and around the country, is a key to the evolving culture of the West campus, said Elizabeth Langland, dean of New College.

“We’re excited about the possibilities that WUE opens up for New College and the campus,” Langland said. “Attracting greater numbers of students from outside Arizona increases the vitality of everything from classroom discussions to social events. At the same time, our students from other states benefit from the unique environment we offer at the West campus, combining a small-college atmosphere with access to the resources of a major research university.”

New College offers bachelor’s degree programs in fields including life sciences (with a pre-med option), communication studies, applied computing, political science, American studies, psychology, applied mathematics, interdisciplinary arts and performance, and more. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to engage in research with faculty members, participate in internships with business and community organizations, and build leadership skills through such programs as Ambassadors and Residential Peer Leaders.

In addition to all bachelor’s degree programs in New College, the WUE tuition program is available for certain majors on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix and Polytechnic campuses. Students who are permanent residents of a WUE state are eligible for the program if they are first-time entering freshmen, new transfer students from four-year institutions, or new community college transfer students with an associate’s degree or 60 transferable hours. Current ASU students from WUE states who move into a WUE-eligible program also may take advantage of the reduced tuition cost.

More information about WUE is available at