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AccessUVa increases economic diversity
Casteen Welcomes Most Diverse Class In U.Va. History

August 23, 2005 -- Thanks to AccessUVa, the University of Virginia’s year-old financial aid program, the University this week welcomes an entering class of first-year students who are just as academically prepared as previous classes, but whose ranks are more socio-economically diverse than ever — a major goal of the University’s Board of Visitors.

AccessUVa has four components:

• U.Va. commits to meeting 100 percent of students’ demonstrated need — the only public university in the nation to do so.

• The lowest-income students are offered only grants.

• Middle-income students are offered aid packages containing loans capped at one-fourth of the anticipated cost of a four-year, in-state education — including tuition, fees, room and board, and expenses.

• Beginning this fall, the University will expand its financial planning and debt management counseling offerings.

In remarks Sunday evening welcoming what he called the most diverse class ever admitted to U.Va., President John T. Casteen III said he expects the class to bring extraordinary strength to the University community.

“I specifically want to welcome 787 of you who are participating in AccessUVa, the University’s financial aid program. I am thrilled that you are here,” Casteen said. “We believe that, through AccessUVa, that we are making progress toward creating a level playing field at the University of Virginia. Together we are doing something significant for higher education.”

As of today, 199 entering first-year students met the criteria for a loan-free U.Va. education under the expanded terms of AccessUVa — almost triple the 70 all-grant recipients in last year’s entering class. Additionally, 33 transfer students from the Virginia Community College System, who were eligible for AccessUVa benefits for the first time this year, qualified for all-grant aid packages. That full cost of education — including tuition, fees, expenses and room and board — is valued at $16,500 per year for Virginia students and $34,500 for out-of-state students.

In January, U.Va.’s Board of Visitors expanded AccessUVa’s scope and raised its annual financial commitment to more than $20 million. The family-income threshold for qualifying for all-grant packages was increased from 150 percent of the federal poverty level to 200 percent, an annual income of $37,700 for a family of four.

There was a 21.2 percent overall increase in applications from students whose families had incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, from 689 in 2004-2005 to 835 in 2005-2006, including Virginia community college transfer students. Applicants in that pool were offered admission at a rate comparable to last year, but 64 percent accepted admission offers, well above the overall yield of between 54 percent and 55 percent.

In all, about 25 percent of the incoming class — 787 students — will qualify for need-based financial aid. The University offered aid packages that meet 100 percent of their need, with loans being the last option whenever feasible.

“One of the major goals of AccessUVa is a reduction in the amount of need-based loans that students are required to take in order to finance their education,” said Yvonne Hubbard, director of Student Financial Services at U.Va.

The Class of 2009 is the first to benefit from the cap on loans for middle-income students. Those who qualify will receive no more than $18,000 in need-based loans over their four years, with the rest of their need being met by a combination of grants and work-study programs. Hubbard projects that 5.5 percent of the class — about 173 students — will reach the loan cap.

The academic profile of the class remains impressive, with no significant differences from the previous class. Eighty-five percent of this year’s entering class ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school classes, compared to 84 percent who entered last year. The middle 50 percent of the class scored between 620 and 720 on the math portion of the SAT, identical to last year. On the verbal portion, the middle 50 percent scored between 600 and 710, compared to a range of 610 to 710 last year.

In-state students make up 68 percent of the class, and 56 percent are female. Ethnically, the class is 10 percent African American, 10 percent Asian American, 5 percent Hispanic and 5 percent international students.

In all, applications increased 5 percent this year, from 15,102 to 15,913.

Demographic breakdown of AccessUVa recipients
As of today, 199 entering first-year students will receive grants-only financial aid packages covering the entire cost of their education. Of that total, 57 are African Americans (28.6 percent), 54 are Asian Americans (27.1 percent), 51 are white Americans (25.6 percent), 14 are Hispanic Americans (7 percent), three are non-resident aliens (1.5 percent), one is Native American (0.5 percent), and 19 are unknown or unclassified (9.5 percent). Eighty-three are male (41.7 percent) and 116 are female (58.3 percent).

New AccessUVa, Financial Aid Web Pages Debut
The University today launched two revamped Web sites: “AccessUVa” (http://www.virginia.edu/accessuva/), and “University of Virginia Financial Aid” (http://www.virginia.edu/financialaid/). The AccessUVa site is designed to help educate prospective students about the University’s financial aid programs and guide them through the application process; the latter is the official financial aid site for prospective, undergraduate and graduate students.

Contact: Dan Heuchert, (434) 924-7676

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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