Are you a resident of AK AZ CO HI MT ND UT or WY? Then you may be eligible for up to $18,500 (or even more!) per year towards tuition through WICHE’s Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP).
Yes, you heard me: up to $18k for each year of the 4-year optometry program!
The most baffling aspect of this program is that many optometry students don’t even know about it, and they also don’t know that SCCO is one of only four optometry schools who accepts WICHE-funded students!
How Can WICHE’s PSEP Program Help Me?
You can read more about the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE, pronounced ‘wit-chee’) and the variety of services they provide on their website. But I want to call your attention to the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), the WICHE division that specifically serves optometry students.
Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming do not have state-funded optometry schools; therefore, it’s understood that for their residents will need to leave the state for optometry school. To help subsidize the cost of out-of-state or private school tuition, by participating in WICHE’s PSEP program, these states subsidize a portion of tuition for residents of their state who apply and are selected to benefit from the program. Check with each state’s WICHE office to discover what criteria must be met to qualify as a resident of a particular state.
By receiving PSEP funding, optometry students who complete optometry school are expected, and in some cases required, to return to practice in their home states for up to four years. Requirements vary state to state so it’s best to check with each state official as to what is required reciprocally from the optometry student after optometry school.
Applying for WICHE Funding and Do It Early!
The deadline to apply for WICHE funding is October 15. Be advised for the best results to apply as early as you can in the admissions process!
Your WICHE application is completely independent of your OptomCAS application. SCCO’s admissions decision has nothing to do with whether or not you apply for or are accepted to benefit from the PSEP program. Likewise, you do not need to have been accepted by SCCO when you apply for WICHE ( however you will just need to notify WICHE once you receive your acceptance from SCCO).
Missed WICHE’s October 15 deadline? Not to worry!
If you have missed the October 15 deadline, contact your state’s WICHE office anyway. Depending on a state’s need for optometrists and its state budget, I have heard of—yes, this is unofficial—deadlines being adjusted depending on the state’s requirements. Also, I’ve heard of many scenarios where WICHE grants full funding for only some of the optometry school term years. The takeaway is not to get discouraged if you miss the deadline, but rather to contact the state office official and make your inquiry.
How and Where Do I Submit the Application for WICHE’s Funding?
To be considered for support through WICHE’s PSEP, you must apply for certification through your home state office. Use this link to WICHE’s website to find your home state’s officer’s contact information. Many states host their applications online.
What Do Students Say About WICHE’s Benefits?
There is no downside to this program! Use this link to WICHE’s website to hear student testimonials about their own experiences.
Now you know about WICHE, a resource that many pre-optometry students don’t even know about! If you are a resident of either AK AZ CO HI MT ND UT or WY, don’t miss out on this tremendous tuition-funding resource and keep the October 15 application deadline on your calendar!
WICHE has comprehensive and easy to navigate information on their website: Link to WICHE FAQs
After reviewing WICHE’s website, if you still have questions, feel free to reach out to SCCO Admissions for assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to describing WICHE’s benefits to pre-optometry students, it’s a small amount of effort to apply to generate this huge benefit!