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Friday, March 19, 2010

Some words about financial access

You've probably seen me mention that the Office of Admission is separate from financial aid, which is handled by Student Financial Services before. When I read applications, I'm not thinking about how the applicant is going to pay their tuition bill, which is something I like. Obviously, there are times when we find out about a student's financial background through their essays or recommendations and that's just fine.

You should know that we are committed to increasing financial access here. AccessUVa was the name of the initiative that started back in 2004 to make sure there is adequate financial support for low income students. AccessUVa is our pledge to:
  • Meet 100 percent of demonstrated need for all admitted undergraduate students.
  • Replace need-based loans with grants in the financial aid packages of low-income students — those whose family income is equivalent to 200 percent of the federal poverty line or less.
  • Cap the amount of need-based loans offered to any student at approximately 25 percent of U.Va.’s in-state cost of attendance over four years, and meet all need above that amount with grants. All students, regardless of state residency, receive the in-state cap level.
  • Offer additional one-on-one counseling to admitted students and their families, assisting them in the financial aid application process and presenting them with financing options outside of need-based financial aid.
I came across some financial aid statistics the other day and thought I'd share them with you:
  • In 2004, we had 702 applicants from low-income families, described as those whose income is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. In 2009, that number had more than doubled, to 1,599.
  • Five years ago, 49.8 percent of low-income students accepted offers of admission. Last year, that number had jumped to 61.8 percent.
  • In 2009-10, over 32 percent of the student body qualifies for financial aid, up from 27 percent in the previous academic year. As these numbers have risen, so have our Pell Grant recipients. The number is up 48 percent since 2005.
  • Total need-based aid to undergraduates increased from $37 million in 2003-04 to $59.1 million during the 2008-09 academic year. Forecasts indicate that total need-based aid may top $73 million in 2009-10.
  • The University's level of support for AccessUVa has risen each year to almost $30 million in the current academic year, even as state support has continued to dwindle.
Obviously, we're always trying to do better, but I think thought those show that there's been good progress here when it comes to access. I'm not a financial aid officer, so any questions about aid need to be directed to Student Financial Services.

If you're interested in current students' perspectives of AccessUVa and Financial Aid, check out the Hoos for Open Access blog. It's a great team blog that was started by and continues to be maintained by students. I'm sure they'd love to answer your questions!