When it comes to higher education in Virginia, you won’t have to settle. Policymakers in the nation’s birthplace recognize the role education has in the state’s overall success.
In 2017, The Virginia Business Higher Education Council launched Growth4VA to promote and reinvest in the state’s higher education system, prioritizing access and affordability.
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Virginia already has a lot to offer, but the state continues to seek improvement which demonstrates a true dedication to education.
Overview of Higher Education in Virginia
Virginia is home to 115 degree-granting institutions, including a number of accredited online colleges, according to a 2018-2019 report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Of these, 41 are public schools, 42 are non-profit private schools, and 32 are for-profit private schools.
The average cost for in-state residents to attend one of Virginia’s 4-year public institutions is $13,413, according to the NCES. Out-of-state students will pay around $34,890. Both tuition rates are thousands of dollars above the national average.
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Virginia residents who are unable to find their degree programs at in-state schools can benefit from the state’s involvement in the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). The program allows students to enroll at public schools in the other 15 participating states while paying in-state tuition rates.
About Online Colleges in Virginia
Online learning has increased in popularity, as more and more individuals seek a way to pursue a degree or certification while still maintaining their career, family life and other obligations.
In 2018 the NCES reported that 21.8% of Virginia’s undergraduate students were enrolled exclusively in online programs, and another 17.8% were participating in a hybrid of online and on-campus courses. These percentages continue to rise as schools increase their online course offerings. Today, most postsecondary institutions in Virginia offer online education opportunities.
The University of Virginia (UVA) offers two bachelor’s degrees — Liberal Arts and Professional Studies in Health Management — as well as numerous undergraduate and graduate certificates. Students at Virginia’s largest public research university, George Mason University (GMU), can consider more than 50 fully online and hybrid degree and certificate programs in popular fields like business, education, engineering, and health.
Virginia Tech (VT) offers its prestigious master’s degree programs online, including Ocean Engineering, Natural Resources, Political Science, Information Technology, and more. Even the second oldest institution in the nation, College of William and Mary (W&M), offers online education. They have fully online and hybrid degree programs available in their business school, school of education and law school.
Those interested in earning an associate degree or certification should consider the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), where they will find a truly remarkable range of fields they can pursue online. Each of the above mentioned schools (UVA, GMU, VT, W&M, VCCS) are members of the Electronic Campus of Virginia (ECVA).
The ECVA promotes resource and knowledge sharing that helps improve online programs at the 10 participating public and private schools.
Scholarships and Financial Aid in Virginia
If you are thinking about attending a college or university in Virginia, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This can provide you access to federal, state and private financial aid.
You will need to fill out the application as early as possible, since most of the funds are awarded on a first come, first served basis. The application becomes available each year on October 1st. The FAFSA will include questions about your finances and the finances of your parents (unless you’re considered “independent”). Then, your answers will be used to determine what types of and how much financial aid you qualify for.
Grants and scholarships are the best form of aid, since they do not have to be repaid. In Virginia, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) advocates for quality, accessibility, affordability, accountability in higher education. They administer financial aid programs such as the following:
- New Economy Workforce Credential Grant – To provide low-cost opportunities for students to receive certification or licensure at community college in a high demand field; Covers up to 2/3 of the program’s cost
- Two-Year College Transfer Grant – For students transferring from a 2-year school to an eligible 4-year school; Must demonstrate financial need and have a GPA of 3.0 or higher; Amount varies
- Virginia Commonwealth Award Program – Need-based aid at public schools; Amount varies
- Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program – Merit and need-based aid at public schools; Must have graduated with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, and maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher in college; Amount varies
- Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program – For a spouse or child of a military service member who was killed or suffered total and permanent disability while serving active duty; Amount may cover up to 8 semesters
- Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant Program – For students attending eligible private colleges and universities; Online and distance education students are not eligible; Amount varies
There are also a number of undergraduate and graduate financial aid programs for those with specific circumstances and those going into specific degree fields.
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Private scholarships are another way to help offset the cost of college. Here are some examples of scholarships open to students in Virginia:
|Scholarship Name||Scholarship Amount|
|Charles Homer Barton Scholarship||(5) $4000|
|Leo Bourassa Scholarship Announcement||(multiple) $500-3000|
|Rich Murray Journalism Scholarship||$1000|
|The Granville P. Meade Scholarship||$2000 per year|
You can find more scholarships by using scholarship search sites like Fastweb.com, where you enter basic information about yourself to get matched with dozens of scholarship opportunities.
And of course, don’t forget to talk to someone in the financial aid office at the school you have chosen. They will be able to tell you about any additional financial aid programs available to students.
List of Online Colleges in Virginia
|Online Colleges in Virginia||Annual Tuition||Application Fee|
|American National University||$14,886||$50|
|ECPI University||$16,639||$0 for online students; $100 campus students|
|George Mason University||$11,300||$70|
|James Madison University||$10,390||$70|
|Miller-Motte Technical College-Lynchburg||$10,288||$40|
|Old Dominion University||$9,750||$50|
|University of Virginia||$16,412||$70|
You won’t have to settle in Virginia. The state has great things to offer its students: high-ranking colleges and universities, a diverse range of online programs, and generous financial aid programs.