Yvonne Hubbard levels the playing
Sees role of her office as making a U.Va.
education affordable for all students
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Hubbard (right) served as an
architect of the bold financial aid plan for
undergraduate students — Access UVa —
just approved by the Board of Visitors.
As director of student
financial services, Yvonne Hubbard is responsible for helping
make ends meet for nearly 13,000 U.Va. undergraduates every year
— a quarter of whom require some form of aid to cover the
cost of their education. Hubbard has achieved a certain fame for
her mastery over the complexities of tuition calculations, but
from her view, financial aid has less to do with balancing an
equation in a financing formula than it does about leveling the
“It’s important for the University to offer equal
access” to all students, said Hubbard. Even though the University
of Virginia is consistently ranked a “best value”
school by U.S. News & World Report, the current estimated
$14,500 annual cost for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, supplies,
housing, meals and living expenses can be daunting to low-income
students, or to middle-income students with demonstrated financial
need. “I can’t say to the population, ‘I’m
sorry, we’ve just priced you out.’”
The aim of the financial
aid office, as Hubbard sees it, is to make a U.Va. education
affordable, regardless of the ability of a student to pay. And
one way to make education more affordable for students, she believes,
is to reduce student debt.
To that end, Hubbard served as an architect of the bold financial
aid plan for undergraduate students —Access
UVa — just approved by the Board of Visitors.
“We know that students make [career] decisions based on
how much debt they’re in and how much choice they perceive
that they have when they enter the workforce,” Hubbard said.
By having less of a debt burden when they graduate, undergraduates
can consider graduate school or public-service jobs that they
might otherwise have felt obliged to forgo.
Hubbard was a champion of equal opportunity long before she arrived
at the top office in Carruthers Hall. Shortly after graduating
from the University of Michigan in the 1970s, she joined the U.S.
Air Force and became the first enlisted female at Gila Bend Air
Force Base in Arizona. She was trained as an electronic warfare
repairperson and operator, maintaining radar and flight equipment
and playing the role of virtual MIGs during war games.
“I drove 40-foot flatbeds and 15-ton wreckers and built
stuff to be bombed,” she recalled. “It was what taught
me that given time and opportunity I really could learn anything.”
Hubbard was neither the first nor last in her family to join the
military. Her father was at Pearl Harbor; her brother served in
Vietnam; and her son, Jason, has recently re-enlisted in the Marines,
serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
While the most tangible reminder of her time in the Air Force
can be seen in her home plumbing and electrical system, which
she maintains herself, Hubbard says there’s a clear connection
between her first job and her current job.
“I really firmly believe in universal service, whether it’s
military service or community service or the Peace Corps,”
she said. “I love working for the government. I feel useful,
and I love doing a good job for the public.”
Hubbard moved to Virginia in 1979 and worked as a social worker
for Fluvanna County before taking a job with the administrative
computing department attached to financial aid. By 1995 she was
a project manager who was tapped by Bill Harmon, then vice president
for student affairs, to be an interim director of financial aid.
“It was a huge jump,” she said, adding, “I think
I’ve earned it, and I hope I’ve lived up to it.”
Eight years and a permanent position later, Hubbard has overseen
several important landmarks for U.Va. financial aid. She effected
the transition to direct loans for the University, helping to
eliminate the era of “arena registration.” She ushered
in the policy of meeting 100 percent of an undergraduate student’s
demonstrated financial need, a policy that achieves full implementation
this fall. She also reorganized the way financial services are
presented to the student body through the creation of the two-year-old
Cavalier Central, reduced redundancies in bureaucracies, and hired
a public relations specialist.
“Yvonne is a great process person with a nice blend of productivity
and humanity,” said Pat Lampkin, interim vice president
for student affairs.
Steve Kimata, the vice president for finance and University comptroller
and Hubbard’s direct supervisor, says it is her passion
for the students that sets her apart.
“She’s always looking to do the best thing for the
student and is aware of how financial aid is a critical component
of the student experience,” he said.