Affordable Excellence


Excellent Education.
Affordable to All.

Affordable Excellence is the University of Virginia’s commitment to students and families that will continue to offer a world-class education that is accessible to all.

“Being able to afford my education is definitely something that weighs heavily on my mind. For me, having to not worry about paying so much back in loans after I graduate is definitely a good thing.”

– Francesca Whitfield ’18

More Aid. Less Borrowing.

For 70% of Virginia Households Affordable Excellence Reduces the Net Cost of A UVA Education

Meeting 100% of Need

The University of Virginia is one of only two public universities nationwide to meet full need for all in-state and out-of-state students. This commitment enables us to offer admission on a need-blind basis. A student’s family finances are considered only after an offer of admission has been extended.

Funding to Ensure Our Future

Affordable Excellence is not just about tuition. It is also about a new, long-range financial plan for the University that will create resources necessary for ensuring our future excellence. This plan calls for an investment in the University’s quality by refinancing debt to save on interest charges, optimizing our efficiency through our Organizational Excellence initiative, increasing the endowment payout, and prudently tapping the interest on required reserves. Resources generated from this plan will allow us to sustain and strengthen the University of Virginia as it enters its third century.

Reducing Loans

Under Affordable Excellence, the maximum amount of need-based loans Virginia families would be offered during a four-year undergraduate career is lower than the federal direct loan maximums.

Maximum Need-Based Loans Offered Over Four Years

Prior Model Affordable Excellence
Low-income Virginians $14,000 $4,000
All other Virginians with need $28,000 $18,000

Low-income Virginians who earn a degree from the University and who accept all of their offered loans would have a maximum loan payment of $50 per month over a term of 10 years, versus a payment of $146 per month under the previous program (assuming a student loan interest rate of 4.7%).

“Perhaps the greatest challenge facing higher education today is the need to balance two equally important and equally demanding obligations: to sustain academic excellence while ensuring that a college education remains affordable for students from all financial backgrounds. The University of Virginia has taken a bold step to resolve this dual challenge by creating an historic new program called Affordable Excellence.”

– Teresa A. Sullivan, President

Funding to Secure Our Future Excellence

Long-Range Financial Plan
Funding Initiatives
Funding Generated
Increase Endowment Spending Distribution up to $4.5 million per year
Debt Portfolio Restructuring $2.7 million per year
Organizational Excellence $120 million over 7 years
Investment Performance $10-$50 million per year

Outstanding Value. Proved Out.

The University of Virginia is perennially ranked among the best universities in the nation for providing the best value to students and their families. These accolades are a direct result of our steadfast commitment to ensuring affordability, regardless of a student’s ability to pay.


Best Deal to In-State Students, 2015


Best Value Public College, 2016


Best Public College Value, 2016


Best Public National University, 2016

“For dollar-for-dollar investment, nothing beats going to the University of Virginia as an in-state student.”

The Atlantic, March 2014

Affordable. For Virginians.

While a national trend indicates that public flagship universities have become less affordable over the past five years, the University of Virginia has been able to maintain accessibility by ensuring it is affordable to the very people it was founded to serve.

Change in Affordability of Flagship Public Universities

State Flagship Institution Net Price* State Median Household Income Net Cost as % of Income 5-Year Change in Cost-Income Ratio
University of Virginia $13,463 $67,620 19.9% 0.6%
University of Maryland - College Park $14,941 $65,262 22.9% 1.9%
University of California - Berkeley $16,614 $57,528 28.9% 2.4%
University of Delaware $14,398 $52,219 27.6% 2.7%
University of South Carolina - Columbia $17,220 $43,749 39.4% 3.1%
University of Massachusetts - Amherst $19,120 $62,963 30.4% 5.1%
University of Tennessee - Knoxville $16,062 $42,499 37.8% 5.2%
University of Connecticut $18,411 $67,781 27.2% 6.0%
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill $11,994 $41,208 29.1% 8.9%
University of Florida $15,157 $47,886 31.7% 9.5%

Data from “The Decreasing Affordability of Public Flagships” in The Chronicle of Higher Education

*Based on most-recently available data, 2012-2013.

What does this mean for me?

Every family’s situation is different, but Affordable Excellence provides a significant reduction in the net cost of a UVA education for more than 70% of Virginia families.

To learn more about the cost of attendance specific to your situation, please visit the Student Financial Services website.

In-State Families

Family of Four One Child in College

Annual Income:
Estimated Cost of Attendance:

Need-Based Grants: $26,572
From federal, state, and institutional sources.

Student Work-Study: $3,000

Need-Based Loans: $1,000***

Total Annual Cost/Debt

Under Affordable Excellence, the offered need-based student loans for this family are limited to $4,000 over four years.

Family of Four One Child in College

Annual Income:
Estimated Cost of Attendance:

Need-Based Grants: $17,072
From federal, state, and institutional sources.

Exp. Family Contribution: $9,000**

Need-Based Loans: $4,500***

Total Annual Cost/Debt

Under Affordable Excellence, the offered need-based student loans for this family are limited to $18,000 over four years.

Family of Four Two Children in College

Annual Income:
Estimated Cost of Attendance:

Need-Based Grants: $20,672
From federal, state, and institutional sources.

Exp. Family Contribution: $5,400**

Need-Based Loans: $4,500***

Total Annual Cost/Debt

Under Affordable Excellence, the offered need-based student loans for this family are limited to $18,000 over four years.

*Estimated cost of attendance includes tuition and required fees, as well as room, board and other costs associated with attending the University of Virginia as a full-time undergraduate student. Travel costs are excluded.

**Expected Family Contribution is an estimate of a student or family's ability to contribute to the cost of a college education, and is determined by a review of several financial factors including income. This number is a sample representation of an EFC for a family in this situation.

***Loan amounts are the average annual need-based loans used to meet institutional need.

Excellence Now. And Tomorrow.

Affordable Excellence is not just about ensuring that a UVA education will be affordable to all Virginians—it is also about ensuring that UVA will continue to provide its students with an unrivaled educational experience. Through rigorous stewardship and fiscal innovation, we will expand our current excellence well into the future.

Through the strategic Cornerstone Plan, we focus this work on five key pillars of excellence:


Enrich and strengthen UVA’s distinctive residential culture


Student Leadership Development
Development of ethical leaders will be a central theme of University curriculum and programs. With its Jeffersonian mission, tradition of self-governance and residential culture, UVA is ideally positioned to develop ethical citizen leaders.

Total Advising
The University will develop an integrated approach to advising—identified as a top priority by students. Faculty, staff, alumni and other students will provide focused academic, career and personal counseling.

Lifelong Alumni Engagement
A “lifelong university” will provide alumni with opportunities to expand their knowledge and skills to mmet pivotal challenges in their professional, public and personal lives and to renew intellectual interests begun while they were students.


Advance knowledge and serve the public through research, scholarship, arts and innovation


Pan-University Research
To foster the intellectual curiosity, ambition and energy of its faculty, the University will facilitate cross-disciplinary work by creating evolving research institutes that address key issues and provide vlauable educationals opportunities.

Infrastructure and Services
The University will enhance institution-wide infrastructure and services to encourage and support research, scholarship, creative arts and innovation by faculty and students. These enhancements include everything from administration and support for research grants and library collections and services to computational resources and core laboratory capacity.


Provide educational experiences that deliver new levels of student engagement


High-Impact Experiences
The University will deliver an education for undergraduate, graduate and professional students that includes meaningful research with faculty members, community engagement, entrepreneurrial expxeriences and internships.

Global Presence
More then 35 percent of UVA students have experience overseas, but more must be done to prepare students for global leadership. UVA will strengthen its global presence and develop international knowledge and cross-culture understanding among all its students.

Evidence-Based Education
The University will capitalize on existing on-Grounds expertise to assess the relationship between educational experiences and student learning outcomes.


Assemble and support a distinguishing faculty


Faculty Leadership Development
The University will develop a program to support the leadership skills of faculty, enabling them to become effective and highly regarded leaders on Grounds and nationally among their colleagues.

Continuous Faculty Recruiting
Continuous active recruiting—based on long-term cultivation of relationships with potential applicants—will enable the University to broaden the pool of diverse, high-potential faculty prospects.

Interdisciplinary Hiring
By recruiting faculty with interdisciplinary expertise who are engaged in collaborative research and teaching, UVA will build the expertise needed to solve challenging issues and offer innovative courses.


Steward resources to promote excellence and affordable access


Affordable Excellence
The University will develop a financial model that sustains AccessUVa, maintaining an academically accomplished and diverse student body, regardless of ability to pay.

Leadership in Staff Excellence
To build staff leadership at all levels, the University will offer more opportunities for experiential learning assignments, coaching, career advising and training for leaders across Grounds.

Organizational Excellence
The University will pursue the optimal allocation of resources to align with institutioal priorities—excellence in education, research, scholarship and affordable access.

Strategically Aligned Philanthropy
The University will more closely align fundrasing with strategic priorities and will restructure University advancement to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency.

Moving Forward. Boldly.

For students and faculty, Affordable Excellence represents a bold and uncommon investment in the qualities that make the University of Virginia great.

Investing in Excellence

By investing in excellence we augment and enhance the quality of our academic program, ensuring the education we offer is world-class. Further, we bolster our ability to recruit and retain top faculty talent, while attracting the world’s best and brightest students to study alongside them.

Investing in Affordability

By investing in affordability we ensure our ability to remain need-blind in admission while meeting 100% of student need. Through these efforts we grow student value, enhance cultural and economic diversity, and demonstrate a significant return on the investment our students and their families make in their education.

Investing in Our Future

By investing in our future we set in motion a sustainable financial model that creates more predictability for our families. It also helps us retain top faculty and staff, provides greater stability in the face of uncertain state allocations and gives us the resources we need to support ongoing operational costs.

Our Commitment. To You.

At its most basic level, Affordable Excellence is a commitment to our students, to our faculty, and to the Commonwealth.

To our Students

You will be given the tools for your development as a leader and the freedom to exercise your leadership through self-governance.

You will have access to high-quality academic and career advising to ensure that your education translates into success beyond your years on Grounds.

You will have the opportunity to take advantage of a broad range of high-impact experiences, including meaningful research with leading faculty members.

You will be part of a University with a global presence and gain access to international knowledge and cross- cultural understanding.

You will have access to a comprehensive alumni program of insight, knowledge and skills to help you meet pivotal challenges in your life and career.

The world-class education we offer will be affordable to you, regardless of your financial circumstances.

To our Faculty

We have a high-quality, diverse, dynamic, and collaborative faculty.

We will continue to cultivate a diverse global community, where many viewpoints and backgrounds collide to create new avenues of study.

We will continuously and actively recruit the world’s top teacher-scholars to replace retiring colleagues while maintaining the qualities that make us unique.

We will attract and secure the world’s top students to your tutelage, regardless of their financial circumstances.

We will develop a comprehensive program to support leadership skills of faculty members.

We will create opportunities for interdisciplinary hiring and study by identifying cutting-edge intersections between disciplines.

To the Commonwealth

We will continue to invest in excellence, making the University of Virginia the nation’s foremost public institution of higher learning.

A University of Virginia education will be affordable and accessible to all citizens of Virginia.

We will meet our enrollment goals to allow more students from Virginia to attend the University.

The University of Virginia community will be representative of a global landscape that values diversity and collaboration.

We will acknowledge our fiscal reality and continue to forge positive partnerships in pursuit of our common goals.

We will continue to drive economic growth in the Commonwealth by pursuing groundbreaking research and cultivating tomorrow’s leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Affordable Excellence?

Affordable Excellence has its origin in the University of Virginia’s strategic plan, The Cornerstone Plan, which outlines the University’s commitment to affordability for Virginians; accessibility for an accomplished and diverse student body; and excellence in research, teaching and service. It is a sustainable financial model that ensures that our students will benefit from the University’s residential culture, the advancement of knowledge and service, superior educational experiences, and a new generation of distinguished faculty. At its essence, Affordable Excellence is the University’s commitment that a UVA education will remain among the best while guaranteeing that Virginia families will be offered minimum levels of need-based student indebtedness.

How does Affordable Excellence help to limit student indebtedness?

Under Affordable Excellence, the maximum amount of need-based loans Virginia families will be offered during a four-year undergraduate career will be reduced by $10,000. Low-income Virginians (new and returning) will be offered no more than $1,000 per year in need-based loans, or no more than $4,000 over four years. All other Virginians (new and returning) are offered no more than $4,500 per year in need-based loans, or no more than $18,000 in need-based loans over four years.

Out-of-state students’ need-based borrowing are limited to offered loans of $7,000 per year, for a maximum total of $28,000 over four years, a remarkable value for an excellent education.

Does UVA still meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need?

Yes. Through our AccessUVA financial aid program, we are committed to meeting 100% of the demonstrated need of students admitted to the University. This important program allows us to operate with a “need-blind” admission policy that bolsters our efforts to attract the best students to the University while achieving socioeconomic diversity in the student population. The University of Virginia is one of only two public universities in the nation to meet full need for both in-state and out-of-state students.

What is need-blind admission?

Our need-blind admission policy means that we do not consider the financial circumstances of our applicants when making a decision about admitting them to the University.

Who benefits from Affordable Excellence?

For about 70 percent of Virginia households, Affordable Excellence reduces the net price of a University of Virginia education by limiting need-based borrowing and increasing grants through our financial aid program. Need is determined by subtracting the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from the student’s cost of attendance (COA). The EFC is calculated based on information provided by families through the annual financial aid application process. The Estimated COA (tuition, required fees, room, board, books, supplies, personal expenses and travel) is posted on the Student Financial Services web site each year.

After a student graduates, how will Affordable Excellence affect their loan payments?

If a low-income Virginian accepts the maximum debt of $4,000 over his/her undergraduate career, his/her loan payment will be about $50 per month. Previously, the maximum debt of $14,000 would have resulted in a monthly payment of about $146. Loan payments for other Virginians with need taking out the maximum offered loans will decline from about $316 to $188 per month. With lower monthly debt payments, Affordable Excellence makes it possible for graduates to consider options such as graduate school or lower-paying job opportunities that provide valuable services, including Teach for America and the Peace Corps.

What is the effect of Affordable Excellence on tuition & financial aid?

Tuition alone does not cover what the University spends annually to educate in-state students. Affordable Excellence will allow Virginia students with need to receive an even larger subsidy of their cost of education by reducing their loans and maximizing grants made available to them through our financial aid program and will improve the quality of that education.

Does the University offer Virginians a way to lock-in undergraduate tuition costs for four years?

The University of Virginia now offers an optional Guaranteed Tuition Plan for Virginians. Full-time Virginia students entering college for the first-time can fix their base tuition rate, providing stability in planning for their tuition costs during their four-year undergraduate career at UVA Information is available on the Student Financial Services site.

Why raise tuition and increase financial aid at the same time? Why not just keep tuition lower?

The University is a complex organization with a variety of revenue sources and expenditures. Tuition does not cover all costs associated with educating students. As we compete to recruit and retain the next generation of faculty to succeed those who advanced the quality of a UVA education to its current standard of excellence, state funding remains uncertain and federal funding continues to decline. The University relies more on philanthropic support and tuition to cover the costs of educating students than it did in previous generations. We have achieved significant savings through our Organizational Excellence program, including strategic sourcing of supplies, function and process reviews, energy conservation and sharing resources, and we have developed new programs and partnerships to generate revenue. Tuition remains an important part of the University’s budget.

As a public institution, it is our mission to educate all students who earn a place in the class based on their merit, regardless of their ability to pay. The University continues to seek additional sources of revenue to support these qualified students and has identified need-based scholarships as a critical fundraising priority.