What is AccessUVa?
AccessUVa is the financial aid program for the University of Virginia. It guarantees 100 percent of the demonstrated financial need of undergraduate students, all of whom are admitted on a need-blind basis. The University currently provides more support for more students than at any time in its history, and is committed to continue doing so.
How has the program changed?
Earlier this year, the Board of Visitors voted to implement need-based loans as part of financial aid packages to low-income students. Previously, low-income aid packages included only grant aid and work study. The change will not affect any current student receiving aid through AccessUVa. These need-based loans are capped at $3,500 per year for low-income, in-state undergraduates (low-income, out-of-state students’ need-based loans are capped at $7,000 per year). For low-income students, grants will still cover the vast majority of education expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and travel.
This change will be phased in by class, beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
Why was this change necessary?
Since the program was launched in 2004-05, costs and demand have increased dramatically, while the state has significantly reduced its support for higher education. As a result, in 2011 the BOV requested that the administration provide recommendations for ways to put the program on a more sustainable path. In AccessUVa’s first year, the program cost $11 million in institutional funds. Last year, institutional costs exceeded $40 million. The number of UVA students with need for financial aid during the last nine years has increased from about a quarter to one-third of all undergraduates. At the same time, funding for financial aid from federal sources has flattened or declined.
Were there other options?
The BOV reviewed several options, such as reducing eligibility for some middle-income students, or reducing aid to out-of-state students. Ultimately, the recommendation selected by the BOV was determined to preserve the University’s ability to offer admission on a need-blind basis and to be the most sustainable way to provide the most support for the most students in light of the program’s rapidly escalating costs.