Facebook Pixel WKU Welcomes Displaced and Refugee Students | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content

WKU Welcomes Displaced and Refugee Students


I am a refugee & want to apply to WKU

Or help a refugee apply to WKU

WKU Student-to-Student Resilient Refugee Navigator Program

Designed to support refugees, asylum-seekers, and other displaced students


Partner with WKU to support refugees

Get in touch to learn how to support refugee integration

Stories of displaced students

Read the stories of WKU refugee & displaced students


Bowling Green and WKU have welcomed refugees for over forty years. Refugees face considerable challenges integrating into US life and accessing American higher education can be even more daunting. Western Kentucky University collaborates with several community partners to support refugees and other displaced persons. WKU is pleased to be selected to participate in the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program (KISPP) offered by the Commonwealth of Kentucky through CPE and KHEAA. WKU's IPAS (International Pathway to Academic Success) is collaborating with RefugeBG to develop an ESL pathway. WKU Global developed the Resilient Refugee Program with support from the NASH Catalyst Fund to implement a student-to-student Navigator program. Through these and other initiatves, we aim to improve education access and career opportunities for displaced students. Efforts are overseen by WKU's Refugee Task Force, 25+ faculty, staff, and students committed to supporting our displaced student population. 


RPP Timeline


In December 2021, a tornado devastated Bowling Green and caused destruction throughout our community. For the recently arrived refugees from Afghanistan the tornado was yet another trauma. At WKU, we quickly learned that refugees faced significant barriers and deep gaps when trying to enroll at our university. WKU formed a refugee task force in January 2022 to address these concerns.

The Resilient Refugee Program offers displaced students eligible for the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program (KISPP) access to personalized support navigating the complexities of life at an American university.

With KISPP, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the first state to develop a scholarship program specifically designed to support refugee students at public community colleges and universities. Bowling Green, home to WKU, is a long-standing refugee resettlement city. We have teamed up with the city government, local non-profits, our regional campuses, and local businesses to support integration of our refugee population. Prior to the generous scholarship program, university education was out of reach for most nearly all refugee students.  As the project is a “pilot” WKU is committed to developing support structures that ensure student success so that the project can be sustained into the future.  

WKU plans to offer unique support to diaplaced students through two programs: 

1. WKU International Pathway to Academic Success 

2. WKU Student-to-Student Resilient Refugee Navigator Program 

We are eager to partner with community organizations, donors, employers and others interested in supporting refugee integration in our community. Contact us direclty to learn more about how you can lend your support: applyinternational@wku.edu

Questions? We are here to help. Get in touch with us by filling out the contact form below: 



WKU thanks the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education – CPE, and Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority – KHEAA


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 3/23/23