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Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP)
How does WICHE’s PSEP (Professional Student Exchange Program) work?
Healthcare workforce needs are at an all-time high, regionally and nationally. State policymakers are looking for the smartest investment of limited tax dollars, and sharing educational resources within the West is a fiscally responsible approach. Given fiscal pressures and other factors, it doesn’t always make sense for a state to create its own program in certain healthcare professions.
Years ago, our Western states formed the Western Regional Education Compact and agreed to share higher education resources in the region through WICHE.
WICHE states that use PSEP have discovered they get an excellent return on investment when they appropriate funds to educate students at other institutions within the 15-state WICHE region. Those funds are administered through WICHE’s PSEP and are sent to the enrolling institutions. The student’s home state pays a “support fee” for the student’s seat; this fee is negotiated between WICHE and the cooperating programs.
If your state is a member of WICHE and does not offer a healthcare education program at an in-state public institution, there’s a good chance that your state can help you through WICHE’s PSEP. Your state may also provide support through PSEP in a healthcare field that is only offered at a private institution located within the state.
Which professional degrees are covered under WICHE’s PSEP?
PSEP covers professional degrees in dentistry, allopathic medicine, osteopathic medicine, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine.
Does my state support students in all the PSEP healthcare professions?
No state supports all the PSEP healthcare professions. Check our state office list to determine if your home state supports your healthcare profession. Typically, a state uses PSEP to educate students in a healthcare profession not offered by one of its state (public) institutions. State support and program participation are subject to change by legislative or administrative action on an annual basis.
How do I apply for PSEP support?
Apply directly to your home state, and become “certified.” This means you’re deemed a bona fide resident of your home state, eligible to compete for WICHE support (which is provided by your home state tax dollars). State residency requirements vary across the West. Visit our website for your state office’s contact information.
What is the PSEP application deadline?
You must send your PSEP certification application to your state office by October 15 of the year preceding admission. Most states will not accept late applications; consult with your state for details.
Which professional schools enroll students through PSEP?
For a current list of cooperating WICHE programs in your field, visit our website. Apply to the participating schools of your choice. When applying for admission, indicate that you have applied for WICHE certification. You are subject to the application deadlines and academic requirements established by each school. Many programs give preferential consideration to WICHE applicants.
Can I apply for PSEP support if I am already enrolled in a professional healthcare program?
A few states accept applications from students who are already enrolled in a professional program. However, new students always receive first priority. Each state has its own regulations, so check with your home state directly for details.
If I am “certified” by my state and accepted by a cooperating program, do I automatically receive financial assistance?
No. Each state determines how many new students it can assist each year. If there are more applicants with offers of admission than state funds available to support the students, your state will ask WICHE to conduct a ranking of applicants to determine who is most qualified.
How does a state determine which of the accepted applicants receives assistance?
Most states choose the “most qualified among the applicants with offers.” WICHE asks cooperating schools to confidentially rank all accepted students from a given state; that information is compiled by WICHE headquarters’ staff in the form of a weighted ranking. The highest ranked applicants are the first to be offered WICHE support. The process is different for applicants seeking enrollment in veterinary medicine. For complete details, download this file.
How does the veterinary medicine selection process differ from the other healthcare fields?
For all fields except veterinary medicine, WICHE-certified applicants receive their admissions offers before they know whether or not they will be supported through PSEP. In veterinary medicine, however, the opposite is true. Our participating schools adopted a “cooperative admissions procedure,” which identifies the number of certified applicants to receive WICHE support, based on anticipated legislative appropriations. Then the top-ranked candidates receive WICHE-sponsored offers of admission from the cooperating colleges of veterinary medicine. For complete details, download this file.
If I am selected to receive WICHE PSEP support, how much will I pay in tuition?
To calculate your exact tuition charges after your PSEP support, contact your enrolling institution. Keep in mind that the “support fee” funds for each WICHE PSEP student are sent directly to the enrolling institution, not to the student.
If you’re enrolled at a public institution, you will typically pay resident tuition, although there are some exceptions described below. The institution receives the support fee funds to help cover the tuition differential that a nonresident would normally pay. Public schools receive state tax dollars to supplement the cost of their residents’ education. Nonresidents don’t contribute to those tax dollars, so your home state helps make up the difference by contributing the WICHE PSEP support fee.
EXCEPTIONS: (1) If you’re a new student who enrolled at a public institution beginning fall 2013 or later and the resident/nonresident tuition differential is not fully covered by the support fee, the program can charge you the balance of nonresident tuition less the support fee. (2) If you're enrolled in a “self-funded” program at a public institution, where there is no difference between resident and nonresident tuition, then you will pay the balance of the full tuition minus the support fee. (3) If you're a pharmacy student enrolled at a public institution, the enrolling program may charge you the balance of the support fee minus nonresident tuition; this is because the pharmacy support fee is lower and is not currently set to cover tuition differentials at public institutions.
If you are enrolled at a private institution, you will pay the balance of private tuition minus the support fee.
How much will I receive in WICHE PSEP support and when will it be disbursed?
PSEP support fees vary by professional program. To find out what the current base support fee amounts are, visit our website. Support fees are sent directly to the program that enrolls our PSEP students, and not to the student directly. One check is mailed on January 15th to cover the current academic year.
Am I required to repay the state for my support?
Many of our states have a contractual “service payback” obligation, whereby you must return to your home state after graduation and practice your profession for a designated number of years. If you do not return, you must reimburse the support and pay interest penalties, as required by your state. Contact your home state certifying office for details.
Am I eligible to receive WICHE PSEP support if I have another scholarship?
It depends. If you have a scholarship that covers the full amount of your tuition (a military or National Health Service Corps scholarship, for example), then you are not eligible to receive WICHE PSEP support. If your scholarship covers any balance of tuition that you owe after your WICHE support, or educational expenses, then you can keep your WICHE support in combination with other awards. If you are unsure, contact your home state certifying office or WICHE’s central office to discuss your situation.