The door’s open|
Alumnus Thomas stars in financial aid campaign
Patrick Thomas is the face and voice of Access UVa.
By Dan Heuchert
Up-and-coming actor Sean Patrick Thomas will serve as
the face and voice of the University’s new “Access
UVa” financial aid program.
Thomas, a 1992 alumnus who himself received need-based
financial aid while at U.Va., is featured in
a series of radio and television public service
and print advertisements. The ads feature the theme, “If you’ve
got the brains, but not the bucks, the door’s open. Access UVa makes it
Several current students — all financial aid recipients — appear
alongside Thomas. Some will be spotlighted individually in print and Web advertisements.
The video spot made its debut Oct. 7 on “Hoovision,” Scott Stadium’s
jumbo video screen, during U.Va.’s home football game against Clemson
University (which it won 30-10), and during halftime of ESPN’s national
telecast. The University’s Board of Visitors received a sneak preview
of the video at their meeting Oct. 1.
A Chicago marketing firm, Storandt/ Pann/Margolis, masterminded
the campaign. In the first wave of the marketing
campaign, public service announcements
will be aired during televised sporting events and across Virginia,
with special focus on Southwestern Virginia,
the Eastern Shore, Hampton Roads
of Northern Virginia.
Originally, we had planned to target just key geographic areas,” said
Carol Wood, assistant vice president for University relations. “But knowing
that students who qualified for Access might live anywhere in the state, we
looked at where the free- and reduced-lunch programs were, and discovered that
97 out of 135 counties are eligible. In fact, 32 percent of all middle- and
high-school-age students in Virginia qualify to receive free or reduced lunches.
With that information, we decided to broaden our net.
It is these students —those who may not be applying to
U.Va. because they believe it is not possible financially — that
we want to reach.”
Board members enthusiastically approved the plan in February
and determined that a major marketing push was vital to its
In addition to the media campaign, Dean of Admission John
A. Blackburn and his staff have been traveling throughout
state to promote Access UVa.
UVa — how it works
There are four key components to Access UVa, which was unveiled
in the spring.
First, beginning this year, it replaces need-based loans
with grants in the financial aid packages of low-income
students — those
whose family income is equivalent to 150 percent of the federal
poverty line or less.
Second, beginning next fall, it will cap the amount of
need-based loans offered to any student, in-state or
approximately 25 percent of the anticipated four-year
cost of attendance for
an in-state student, and will meet all need above that
amount with grants. “Cost of attendance” includes tuition
and fees, books and supplies, housing, meals and personal expenses,
and is calculated as $15,865 for the 2004-2005 school year.
Third, the plan meets 100 percent of demonstrated need
for all undergraduate students. The Office of Student
offers any student who has financial need, and who
is not low-income, a package of grants and loans equivalent
Fourth, the plan includes college financing and debt
management counseling for students and their families.
Many families — low-income
families in particular — find the financial aid application
process daunting. Under Access UVa, Student Financial Services
has added staff to offer additional one-on-one counseling to
matriculating students and their families, assisting them in
the financial aid application process and presenting them with
financial options outside of need-based financial aid.
More information about Access UVa can be found online
at www.virginia.edu/accessuva/, or by calling toll-free