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Bob Collins - Western Governors University. Salt Lake City, UT, US

Bob Collins Bob Collins

Vice President, Financial Aid | Western Governors University


Bob Collins has over 35 years of experience in student financial aid administration and serves as WGU's Vice President for Financial Aid.









Bob Collins joined Western Governors University in October 2012 as Vice President of Financial Aid. In this role, he is committed to expanding access to affordable higher education, and in 2016 WGU received national recognition from AAUA and WCET for its Responsible Borrowing Initiatives programs which encourage students to borrow only what they need resulting in a student loan default rate of 4.1 percent, half the national average.

Before coming to WGU, Collins had more than 35 years of experience in student aid administration. He has been a member of several technical review panels for the National Center for Education Statistics, participated on numerous negotiated rulemaking committees, and actively engaged in the Distance Education Demonstration Program with the U.S. Department of Education.

Collins is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Forward 50 committee as a national thought leader on higher education public policy. He has published several topical articles on LinkedIn and has been quoted by Yahoo, Education Dive, Good Call, Huffington Post and U.S. News and World Report, among other media outlets.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Student Financial Aid Financial Literacy Responsible Borrowing Student Debt Leadership Higher Education

Accomplishments (2)

WCET Outstanding Work (WOW Award)


WGU's Responsible Borrowing Initiatives (RBI) program recognized for “implementing exceptionally creative, technology-based solutions to contemporary challenges in higher education.”

AAUA Exemplary Models Award


WGU's Responsible Borrowing Initiatives (RBI) program recognized for providing “an excellent solution to a common problem in higher education.”

Education (3)

University of Phoenix: M.A., Public Administration 2012

University of Colorado Denver: B.A., Business Administration and Management 1983

Niagara University: General, Business Administration and Management 1980

Affiliations (2)

  • National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Forward 50
  • Rocky Mountain Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

Selected Media Appearances (9)

Team Players in Teaching

Inside Higher Ed  online


Bob Collins, WGU’s vice president of financial aid, has been a consultant for the institution since before it enrolled its first student in 1997. He sees the unbundled faculty model as “a critical factor in our students’ success for completion and graduation.” Rather than feeling burdened by pressure to teach to the test, instructors focus on leading students to specific and discrete objectives.

Natalie Murray, vice president of student experience, believes many traditional faculty members might welcome the opportunity to specialize in just one of WGU’s four distinct areas -- some are more interested in providing feedback on student work, while others like to think about how courses connect to each other.

New students, many of whom likely won’t have experienced education delivered in this format before enrolling at WGU, get exposed to the complexities of the model before admission and during an extensive onboarding course, Murray said. Academic centers, including hubs for writing, math and general student success, also offer students additional guidance throughout their WGU experience.

All WGU faculty members, meanwhile, go through weekly training sessions that cover pedagogy, strategies for engaging students and techniques for using new technology tools.

To skeptics of the model, Collins offers that it’s not as radical as it may seem. “The professor and the TA: that’s an instructional team,” he said.

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It's Sunday evening, where are online colleges' student services?

Education Dive  online


With college enrollment mostly flat and the number of adult learners taking online classes expected to increase, it doesn't take a business major to determine that more colleges and universities will be targeting this largely untapped student segment.

Several have already made moves to that effect, including the University of Massachusetts System, which last month announced plans for a national online college focused on these so-called "nontraditional" students.

But traditionally campus-based institutions can find themselves outpaced as they try to match offerings from online-only schools, especially when it comes to critical services that can help attract and retain students, such as financial aid and academic advising. The act of retrofitting these typically on-campus services to meet the needs of a new subset of students can be awkward, especially compared to the streamlined offerings of online-only institutions.

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Moving Forward (as Last) on Federal Rule Changes

Inside Higher Ed  online


WASHINGTON -- A tumultuous three months of back-and-forth between U.S. Department of Education officials and representatives across higher education culminated last week in proposals that clarify and update existing rules around digital learning and innovation.

Advocates for online learning and other emerging education models found plenty to celebrate as the process wrapped up. The final proposed rules include language that mitigates ambiguity around phrases like “distance education” and “regular and substantive interaction,” which have long puzzled institutions developing programs for an increasingly diverse set of learners.

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How to Find Legit Online Colleges (and How to Avoid the Scams)

Student Loan Hero  online


When Ryan Yousefi decided to go back to school to get his degree, he knew it had to be online. He came across a news segment that featured Western Governors University (WGU), an online-only school.

“I took my time and made sure WGU was accredited,” Yousefi said.

Regardless of where you decide to get your college education, researching schools is a vital part of applying. Weeding through accredited online colleges might seem like tiresome work, but choosing the right school is important. There are a few steps you can take to find the right online college or university for you.

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WGU's 3-Year Student Loan Default Rate Drops to 4.1%, Less than Half the National Rate of 10.8%

PR Newswire  online


Western Governors University's (WGU) official student loan default rate dropped again for the FY 2015 cohort, from 4.6 to 4.1 percent, which is less than half the national average and decreasing at a faster rate than the national average. The U.S. Department of Education released official cohort default rates (CDR) for all Title IV-eligible institutions on Tuesday. The downward trend at WGU is the result of access to affordable, high-quality degree programs combined with student financial literacy initiatives.

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Advance Your Career with an Affordable Degree from WGU

Reward Expert  online


“We just celebrated our 20th anniversary,” Bob Collins said. “That’s a pretty remarkable milestone. While we had a slow start, because what we were doing was so different, once we started demonstrating that the competency-based education model offers a quality education that is actually more affordable, we gained traction. While we were the pioneers of competency-based education, I think there are probably 600 other colleges exploring it today.”

Since its founding, WGU has graduated more than 100,000 students in 50 different degree programs. Though the average WGU student is 37 years old, the student population ranges in age from 17 to 76. Forty percent of WGU’s attendees are first-generation college students. Twenty-four percent come from low-income families. Eleven percent are active military, veterans, or military family members. And 74 percent work full time while completing their education.

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5 Overlooked Ways to Pay for College

U.S. News & World Report  online


"Start saving as early as you can for your education. No matter how small the amount, every cent counts. A 529 savings account offers tax advantages, so it is one of the best ways to save for college," says Bob Collins, vice president of financial aid at Western Governors University in Utah.

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5 Tricks to Help Foot the College Bill

Education and Career News  online


Bob Collins is a financial aid executive and member of the Higher Education Committee of 50 or “Forward50,” offers advice for all students preparing to pay for their college education.

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Students and university profit from Responsible Borrowing Initiative

University Business  online


Students at Western Governors University, an exclusively online higher ed institution, get a free lesson in responsible borrowing that is paying dividends many years beyond graduation.

In the two years the Utah- based institution’s Responsible Borrowing Initiative has been in place, student loans have been reduced by $250 million, according to Bob Collins, vice president of Student Financial Aid at the non- profit institution founded in 1997 by leaders of 19 western states.

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Event Appearances (1)

Higher Education Financial Wellness Webinar Series

Higher Education Financial Wellness Summit  Webinar


Selected Articles (2)

Making college affordable in Tennessee Tennessean

Bob Collins, Russ Deaton, and Keith Carver


As the cost of college continues to increase, all of us in higher education have an obligation to work toward making it more affordable.

Fortunately, in recent years, higher education leaders in Tennessee have been at the forefront of policy and innovation designed to make college more accessible and affordable.

Nevertheless, student debt continues to spiral out of control. The New York Federal Reserve reports that student loan debt now surpasses $1.4 trillion. While student loan numbers are shockingly high, the first step to slowing their growth — or even reducing them — is to address the cost of college.

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An "all you can learn" education for $6,000 a year LinkedIn

Bob Collins


While student loan numbers are shockingly high, the first step to slowing their growth or even reducing them is to address the cost of college. At Western Governors University (WGU), we serve nontraditional students—most are 25 or older, have full-time jobs, and are responsible for supporting a family. WGU is online and competency-based, which allows these busy adults to earn their degrees on a schedule that fits their lives. As a nonprofit, WGU is focused on keeping college affordable; tuition is charged at a flat rate (“all you can learn”) of about $6,000 per year, less than the average for state institutions ($9,400). WGU is self-sustaining on tuition, with no ongoing state funding, and our tuition hasn’t increased since 2008.

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