DURHAM – WGU North Carolina, an affiliate of national online nonprofit Western Governors University (WGU), has announced a new Online Access Scholarship program that will grant high-speed internet access and provide devices to WGU students who need and can’t afford them.
WGU’s $1 million national scholarship program is part of a broader initiative aimed at working with policy makers and private industry to close the digital divide by providing more Americans access to reliable internet in their homes.
“Until federal, state, and local governments figure out a way to finance a massive infusion of broadband
infrastructure into our cities and small towns, scholarships like this one can help individuals secure reliable internet access to further their education,” said former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, who also sits on WGU North Carolina’s Board of Advisers.
The Federal Communications Commission estimates 21 million Americans lack access to high-
speed internet. According to the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Broadband Infrastructure
Office, about 95 percent of households in North Carolina have access to broadband Internet of varying
speeds. However, large sections of rural North Carolina, including some of the state’s most low-income
areas, are left out. According to BroadbandNow, only 46.8 percent of the state’s population has access to
what is considered a low-priced internet plan.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of reliable digital access for many aspects of
life, including education,” said WGU North Carolina Chancellor Catherine Truitt. “Thousands of North
Carolinians have had to eliminate Wi-Fi from their household budgets due to loss of jobs or income. This
program, which will enable students to study and learn from the safety of their homes, is one of the ways we are removing the barriers to learning opportunities.”
For those whose jobs have been impacted by the pandemic, returning to school to prepare for new career
opportunities is critical. However, the loss of income may make it impossible to pay for broadband services students need to return to school. WGU’s Online Access Scholarship will support this need by allowing students to learn from the safety of their homes.
More information on WGU’s Online Access Scholarship is available at www.wgu.edu/access or by