UVa’s Vice Rector is Out of Touch With Reality: Low-Income Students Should Not be Crippled with Debt


As many of you may know, early in August, the University of Virginia’s (UVa) Board of Visitor (BOV) – the governing board for the institution - voted to slash overall funding for AccessUVa, the school’s financial aid program, and completely eradicate the no-loan policy for low-income students in the program. Vice Rector of the Board, William Goodwin, justified the cuts by proclaiming that low-income students shouldn’t get an advantage wealthier students don’t have, “they all graduate with the same degree”, as reported in this Daily Progress article.

The Vice Rector is out of touch with reality. Low-income students who make it to college have to pay, on average, ¾ of their family income for just one year at a four-year institution. That’s five times the share wealthy students have to pay! So while all students may graduate with the same degree, they don’t all graduate with the same amount of debt. According to the Doing Away with Debt report --a report by The Education Trust that offers a feasible way to provide all students with affordable college -- the lowest-income students pay an average of 72% of their family income towards annual college cost, after accounting for college grant aid. For the wealthiest students, that share is only 14%. Now UVa’s BOV voted for a decision that could make their incoming freshman class next fall take out nearly $30,000 in student loans.

A high quality education should be for all students, not just those who can afford it. Crippling some students with a lifetime worth of debt is the real unfairness. All students may graduate with the same degree, but the financial burden to get that degree is a great deal heavier on low-income kids. I doubt the BOV’s Vice Rector thought about that before he decided to make his unrefined statement.

UVa’s AccessUva program opened the door for thousands of low-income students to receive a top quality education and not be saddled with student debt. In 2004, 49.8% of low-income students accepted offers of admission from the University. Five years later, that number had spiked to 61.8%. Taking the low-income policy away from students has the potential to reverse years of progress that has created economic diversity on UVa’s campus.

Join the I AM NOT A LOAN Campaign and thousands of students, parents, educators, and advocates, by signing the petition asking the University of Virginia to restore their no-loan policy. When institutions are already there, leading the charge for access and affordability, there’s no reason to turn back on progress.

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Cross-posted at Daily Kos, and Blue Virginia