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It seems nothing comes cheap these days – certainly not a college education. But if you’re looking for an affordable college in Wyoming, you’re in luck. Tuition and fees are usually low compared to other states, and there are attractive financial aid packages available (e.g. military assistance programs that cover 100% of tuition and fees and private scholarships). An added bonus to finding a Wyoming school you can afford is that you get to earn your college degree in what is arguably one of the most beautiful states in the country.
The Trapper Scholarship available at Northwest College for beginning students has four levels, with award amounts for each level based on a student's academic standing and place of residence. The levels include: Presidential ($1,200-$1,500), Excellence ($1,000-$1,200), Achievement ($800-$1,000), and Explorer ($500). Eligible Wyoming students are automatically considered for the Hathaway Scholarship. A merit and need-based award, the program provides eight semesters of financial aid to qualified students and has three levels: Provisional ($800 per semester), Performance ($1,200 per semester), and Honors ($1,600 per semester). The average Pell Grant award for the school year 2013-2014 was $4,399. Thirty-four percent of beginning students qualified for the grant. Wyoming residents can compete for additional scholarships, which include academic, activity-talent, or athletic scholarships.
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
Sheridan College is near Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains, so many learning and recreational activities focus on the outdoors. Along with academic transfer programs, Sheridan is known for technical education in agriculture, diesel technology, and machine tooling. Sheridan grants more than $3 million in financial aid, with scholarships offered for most majors. Wyoming residents might be eligible for the state's Hathaway Scholarship, designed to encourage high school graduates to remain in the state. Wyoming also has a special loan program for nursing majors at Sheridan. Several private foundations in the region provide interest-free loans for Sheridan students, who must apply directly to the foundations. Residents of other Western states can qualify for reduced tuition under the Western Undergraduate Exchange program.
Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
Wyoming offers excellent course transfer opportunities to college students. The state has a transferable core of lower division courses, statewide common course numbering, and statewide guaranteed transfer of associate’s degrees. Also, students can use a statewide articulation guide to learn about transfer opportunities.
Wyoming colleges have a set of general education courses with a minimum of 30 credit hours. This core curriculum is transferable among public Wyoming institutions. Wyoming’s Course Identification System offers common course numbering and an easy way to identify courses for transfer.
Wyoming college students who have completed the core curriculum and a three-hour math course as part of an associate of arts or associate of science program will be considered to have met all of the University of Wyoming’s lower division general education requirements. Also, students who have earned an associate’s degree at a Wyoming community college will be automatically admitted to the University of Wyoming.
The University of Wyoming, the state’s only public university system, will accept credit earned at any Wyoming public community college according to the Wyoming Higher Education Course Transfer Guide and Statewide Course Catalog.
You can increase your chance for success by starting your search for an affordable Wyoming college or university as early as possible. You can do that by finding plenty of useful and timely information on Wyoming’s pre-college website. From middle school through college, the website clearly and simply plots the journey to your college degree, including how to pay for it.
Summary: This is a need-based grant for Wyoming students attending college for the first time. Award amounts of $1,000 per student are available. Wyoming residents who qualify for this grant may apply the money to any college or university nationwide that is participating in the Federal Pell Grant Program.
Eligibility: Your income must qualify you to receive a Pell Grant to be considered for this opportunity. You also you must be or have:
How to Apply: Complete the FAFSA and register online at the grant web page to apply.
Summary: This scholarship is for applicants who received foster care, guardianship, or adoption services from the Casey Family Program in one of these seven states: Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Eligibility: You may be considered for this program if you:
How to Apply: You have to create an account in order to apply for the program. Once your eligibility is approved, you will be contacted for further steps to take to complete the application.
Summary: Recognizing that not all students come from the same mold, the Daniels Boundless Opportunity Scholarship program offers financial assistance to non-traditional students. Boundless Scholarship funds are given as grants to partner schools and universities, and then distributed as need-based scholarships to qualified applicants. Award amounts are based on an applicant’s personal financial needs.
Eligibility: The fund is available to the following non-traditional student populations:
How to Apply: Participating schools (see list here) administer this program. Contact the Wyoming college or university you plan to attend to inquire about their application process.
Summary: This scholarship is available for graduating high school seniors from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. A supplemental or “last dollar” scholarship, the fund covers a student’s unmet financial need after all scholarship, grant, and work-study funds, as well as the EFC (Expected Family Contribution), are taken into account. If a recipient enrolls in a partner school (see list here), the fund will cover their EFC. The scholarship is renewable for a maximum of four academic years.
Eligibility: Although students do not have to be Pell Grant-eligible to be considered for this opportunity, they must meet the following criteria:
How to Apply: You can apply online starting September 30, 2016.
Summary: Along with grants given to various organizations and groups statewide, the Wyoming Community Foundation administers several scholarships to graduating seniors. Many scholarships are for $1,000 annually, but some are up to $3,000 (Melinda Jean Tillett Memorial Scholarship) and $5,000 (Georgene Hager Scholarship).
Eligibility: Each scholarship has its own eligibility criteria. Visit their website to find out the scholarship(s) for which you may qualify.
How to Apply: You can download the application form for each scholarship program from their website. Instructions, including the required documents and where to forward your application, are also on their website.
Summary: This funding is for graduating high school seniors entering college as first-time freshmen and for non-traditional students who plan to attend a Wyoming college or university. Three scholarships of $1,000 each are allocated to every state County Commission to be awarded to qualified applicants. This is a need-based scholarship that must be used in the year it is awarded. It can also be renewed for an additional year.
Eligibility: To be considered for this scholarship, you must be:
How to Apply: High school seniors can get an application form from their high school guidance office. Completed forms should be returned to the guidance counselor in each school district. You can also download an application from their web page. Submit the completed form to: Office of the Converse County Clerk, 107 N 5th St., Suite 114, Douglas, WY 82633.
Summary: This scholarship program is for Wyoming residents who plan to attend college within the state. It features four merit-based awards, each one with specific academic requirements. Award amounts range from $800 to $1,600 per semester. A need-based award (to supplement the merit-based awards) is also available for eligible students with unmet financial need.
Eligibility: You must be accepted to a Wyoming college or university as an incoming freshman for the academic year that the scholarship is being awarded. There may be other requirements from different institutions.
How to Apply: Contact the Wyoming college or university you plan to attend and ask about the application process.
Summary: This scholarship is administered by the Wyoming Space Grant Consortium as part of the National Space Grant Program. It is intended to cover graduate assistant stipends for graduate students conducting independent research as part of a Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy program. Applicants must submit a research proposal in accordance with the National Space Grant Goals and Objectives and related to NASA’s mission goals. Scholarships can be up to $13,500 (MS) or $18,000 (PhD) and are given only for one year. Fellowship includes tuition and all fees.
Eligibility: Graduate students who wish to be considered must:
How to Apply: Follow the instructions on the scholarship web page and submit the required documents before the deadline.
Summary: This program is administered by Space Grant representatives at participating Wyoming colleges and universities. Funds, up to $5,000, are for expenses in connection with approved student research projects. Female students and students from under-represented groups are encouraged to apply.
Eligibility: You must have a faculty advisor available to you to oversee your research to be considered for this grant. You also must be:
How to Apply: You can apply right from the scholarship web page.
Summary: This program covers a portion of the recipient’s educational loan burden for as long as he or she provides food animal veterinary services in an approved area (as designated by the Wyoming Livestock Board). The minimum requirement is three years. The loan repayment amount can be up to $30,000 per year. At least 25 percent of this amount must first be matched by a sponsor (for example, a state agency, or a county or city veterinary clinic) before any federal funds can be expended.
Eligibility: To be considered for this program, you must be:
How to Apply: Contact the program administrator at 847-285-6779 on how to apply for this program.
Summary: This program provides financial assistance to overseas combat veterans and the surviving spouse or child of a deceased combat veteran. Recipients can receive free tuition and fees for credit courses for up to 10 semesters.
Eligibility: You may be considered for this program if you meet the criteria below:
How to Apply: This program is administered through the financial office of participating Wyoming colleges. Ask the school you plan to attend if they offer the program. Some institutions may have additional requirements.
Summary: The Wyoming National Guard will cover 100 percent of tuition and fees for applicants who are eligible for this plan. All educational programs – Bachelor’s, Master’s, doctorate, certificate, etc. – are acceptable as long as they are offered by an approved Wyoming institution. The plan will cover the cost of one degree or program. Recipients are given 10 years to complete their chosen educational program. This benefit can be used simultaneously with the benefits granted by the GI Bill.
Eligibility: You should be an active Wyoming National Guard member and meet the following criteria:
How to Apply: You can access and complete the application here.
Summary: This funding support from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) allows students in 10 western states to pay reduced tuition in selected out-of-state professional healthcare programs. When an in-demand healthcare program is not offered at a public college or university of a participating state, that state will pay for a student to enroll in another state that offers the program.
Eligibility: Wyoming supports resident students who have been accepted to the following programs:
How to Apply: Visit this website to find out more about the program and to download/request an application.
Summary: Wyoming students interested in graduate-level studies (Master’s, graduate certificate, and doctorate degrees) can enroll in over 400 graduate programs in more than 60 participating WICHE schools outside the state and still pay resident tuition.
Eligibility: To be considered for this program, you must:
How to Apply: Download the application form from the program’s web page.
Summary: Students residing in one of the 15 WICHE states can apply for reduced tuition in an out-of-state institution participating in the program. See the list of participating schools and the eligible programs they offer here.
Eligibility: You can apply for this program if you:
How to Apply: Apply directly to the participating school of your choice. The admitting college or university may have additional requirements to qualify you for this program.
Finding an affordable Wyoming college to attend is only the first step toward earning your degree. Whether you live on or off campus, you still have to find a way to live cheaply enough for the next four years, or until you complete your degree program – whichever comes first. It becomes even more difficult if you have to also provide for your family.
The Wyoming Department of Family Services is a good place to start looking for help should the need arise. You can find information about several programs, including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), WIC (Women and Children), and the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). When the financial demands of pursuing your college degree compete with your family’s needs, contact the DFS district office in your area to see if you qualify for any of these or other programs. There is help available that will allow you to provide for your family without dropping out of school.
Like the majority of colleges and universities throughout the country, many Wyoming schools require freshmen to live on campus. But on-campus housing in several institutions is designed to accommodate the needs and preferences of older students as well. For example, the Landmark Village at the University of Wyoming offers two-bedroom apartments with extra storage areas and play equipment for children, and Casper College has one-bedroom apartments for couples and single, non-traditional students.
The difficulty is that most scholarships and grants only cover tuition and fees. However, if you qualify for the Daniels Boundless Scholarship (see above), you can use some of your scholarship for your on-campus room and board. Federal grant programs, such as the Pell Grant and the G.I. Bill, also allow recipients to apply some of the grant money toward on-campus housing costs.
And do visit your school’s financial aid office to ask about private scholarships or work-study programs that can help pay for your on-campus housing. If you’re a transfer student who’s lived on campus before, you may be qualified to be a Residential Assistant, which means you can live on campus for free – or, at least, for a substantial discount.
There are several websites that can help you with your search for off-campus housing in Wyoming. WalkScore.com, StudentRent.com, and CampusRent.com are just a few examples. Some colleges also have a list of nearby apartment buildings that are managed by student-friendly landlords. Ask about this at your school’s student services office.
You can also find out if your income qualifies you for low-income housing or Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8). Your local Public Housing Agency can help you. If you qualify, search for subsidized apartments near the college or university you plan to attend. Keep in mind that many public housing complexes have a waiting list. Get your name on as many relevant lists as you can and begin your housing search early. This will increase your chances of landing an off-campus apartment that won’t take a big chunk out of your college budget.
Unlike on-campus housing, off-campus apartments are not fully furnished. Save money by buying only the pieces of furniture you absolutely need, and shop at thrift stores for gently-used, second-hand furniture. Search for the nearest Goodwill store in your area for bargains.
The Wyoming Department of Family Services administers the federal government’s Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP). You can find out more about the program to see if you qualify and apply right online if you do. You can also apply to receive emergency funding to prevent your utilities from being shut off due to non-payment or for unplanned situations such as a heating system failure. The department also administers the Weatherization Assistance Program that includes services such as insulation, caulking, and storm windows installation, all at no cost to you.
The Energy Share of Wyoming is a program administered through the Salvation Army. It provides emergency funding for residents of the Rocky Mountain Power service area who need help paying their utility bills. Call 1-877-461-5719 to inquire about the program, and download the application form here.
In most cases, being enrolled in a university health plan meets the Affordable Care Act requirement for having coverage. This means you avoid having to pay the penalty for being uninsured. These student health plans also typically give you access to many healthcare services at no additional cost or at more affordable rates.
At the University of Wyoming, even part-time students (undergraduates taking less than 12 credits or graduate students taking less than 9 credits) can buy into the university student health plan so they can use the services as well. Student Health Services at Northwest College provides a wide range of free services to students who are enrolled in only six credit hours, including the distribution of some over-the-counter medicines and physicals for sports, employment, or missions. Casper College and Laramie County Community College also have excellent on-campus health centers that offer affordable healthcare services to their students.
If you cannot (or choose not to) participate in the student health plan of your Wyoming college, your income may qualify you for Equality Care, which is Wyoming’s Medicaid program. Visit this page to find the eligibility requirements and to apply
Wyoming also has WHIPP, which is the Wyoming Health Insurance Premium Payment Program. If you qualify for Equality Care and have other health insurance that is deemed more cost-effective by the program, you can maintain your health insurance and Medicaid will pay for the premium, co-insurance, and deductible costs. If you (or a qualified dependent) have a chronic medical condition that requires frequent medical appointments, this program can save you a lot of money that you can use to help pay for your college education.
Dental care is expensive, and most insurance plans don’t cover dental procedures. The Laramie County Community College Dental Hygiene Clinic is open to the general public and campus community. Dental hygiene students and faculty provide a wide range of preventative dental hygiene services at a modern facility for a fraction of the cost, even with third-party dental insurance. Call 307-778-1141 to schedule an appointment.
College life can be stressful – especially if you’re working or raising a family of your own (or both). The University of Wyoming Counseling Center offers free counseling services to all its students. It also has a crisis intervention service for students with urgent needs. Laramie County Community College offers its students the same service, as do most Wyoming colleges. You can visit the web page of the Wyoming Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Division for a list of counseling and mental health services. If you’re eligible for the Equality Care program, you’re also most likely eligible for these services at minimal or no cost.
The Early Childhood Learning Center at Casper College offers financial assistance to students who wish to enroll their children at the center. Visit their page to see if you qualify for aid. The Children’s Learning and Care Center at Northwest College offers a similar program. Other Wyoming schools that have on-campus child care facilities include Western Wyoming Community College and Laramie County Community College. Although the programs and services they offer are not free, it can’t hurt to ask if your child qualifies for reduced tuition, especially if he or she is already receiving some type of child care help from another state or federal program.
The Wyoming Department of Family Services can help you pay for child care if you meet their income requirements. Even if you’re not qualified to receive Medicaid benefits, your child may still be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through the Department of Health. This program provides free preventive health and dental care for children whose parents are working or enrolled in an accredited educational program.
Wyoming also participates in a number of nutrition programs such as the After School Snacks & At Risk Meals, the Special Milk Program, and the Summer Food Service. Visit the Department of Education’s Nutrition page to find out more about these (and other) programs for your child. Discover how you can earn your college degree in a Wyoming college while also raising a healthy, well-fed child.
With the Great Plains meeting the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, much of the state is considered rural land. As such, it’s difficult to get around the Cowboy State without a car (preferably an ATV). But if you plan to go to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, you can survive quite nicely without a vehicle and reduce your carbon footprint as you work toward your college degree. The UWYO Roundup bus provides reliable transportation around the campus and Laramie, and it’s absolutely free for UWYO students. You can even track where your bus is at any time. If you’re a college student in Cheyenne, you can ride the Cheyenne Transit Program buses for a discount rate.
Universities also sometimes offer free shuttle bus service to common nearby destinations for their students, as well as carpool services or share-a-ride programs. Visit the transportation office in your school and inquire. If you absolutely need a car to make the most efficient use of your time, see if you can get an eco-friendly vehicle. While Wyoming does not have a lot of green driver incentives, you can still take advantage of federal incentive programs. There are also insurance companies that offer special rates for green vehicles.
Wyoming participates in the Food Bank for the Rockies program, so you can turn to them when you find yourself skipping meals more often just so you can afford to stay in college. They provide food and other essential items to more than 245 hunger relief programs throughout Wyoming, including mobile pantries and programs for children.
Find out if your income qualifies you for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which allows you to purchase a variety of food items for you and your family, including fresh produce and infant food and formula.
If you only need occasional help (or if your income does not qualify you for SNAP), check out the list of food pantries operating in several Wyoming counties here. These organizations may not have the resources to distribute food regularly, so be sure to find out their distribution schedule ahead of time.
Even though it is the state capital and the most populous city in Wyoming, Cheyenne has retained much of its small-town appeal. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the cost of living here is around the national average. For a college student on a strict budget, this means you might have to get a bit more creative and resourceful so you can afford to live in the city while working toward your degree. Fortunately, there is help available in Cheyenne.
For additional help in Laramie County (to which Cheyenne belongs), contact Community Action of Laramie County, Inc. They can assist you with your housing, child care, and healthcare needs.
A beautiful place to call home, Casper, Wyoming, sits along the North Platte River at the foot of Casper Mountain. It is also the second largest city in the state and provides its residents (college students included) with a variety of affordable (sometimes free) family and health services. This is good news for students on a shoestring college budget.
There are several other non-profit organizations in Natrona County that will help you.
Home to the University of Wyoming, Laramie is a typical college town, albeit with a more rustic appeal. Students in need can find help from a number of organizations that make living and studying in this so-called Gem City of the Plains much easier.
You can find more organizations that offer a wide range of assistance programs for Laramie residents at the website of the United Way Albany County. Thanks to these non-profit agencies, earning your college degree in Laramie does not mean going hungry or going without comprehensive healthcare benefits.