CHARLOTTESVILLE—Despite a decline in the expected number of high school graduates in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, applications are once again on the increase at the University of Virginia. Projecting a 3 to 4 percent growth in the total number of applicants for the UVA Class of 2014, Dean of Admission Gregory Roberts speculates that the flood of applications “represents the triumph of economics over demographics.” He goes on to explain that UVA “is an attractive option for recession-strapped families, having been ranked as No. 1 ‘best value’ among public colleges for two straight years by the Princeton Review.”
But beyond looking for value, applicants also appear to be attracted to more practical professions with guaranteed post-graduation employment. The number of students applying to the School of Nursing rose by more than 20 percent, and applications to the School of Engineering and Applied Science went up by about 10 percent. “My informal theory would be that in a bad economy, these are the kinds of jobs that people are drawn to,” explained Theresa Carroll, assistant dean in the UVA School of Nursing.
Among public institutions, UVA represents a great bargain, especially for in-state students. The total cost of attendance for the current freshman class is estimated at $21,140 for Virginians and $43,140 for out-of-state students. The University’s financial aid program, AccessUVa, guarantees student aid packages meeting 100% of demonstrated need—with no loans for students from families whose income is up to 200% of the federal poverty level. For students receiving aid, the average award is $15,840.
In addition to financial advantages, student recruitment was also bolstered by UVA’s continued participation in a traveling road show including admissions representatives from Harvard and Princeton universities. The joint tour attracted huge numbers of high school students and their families throughout the country—1400 participants at a single information session in Washington DC. While UVA’s applications went up by 3 or 4 percent, Harvard’s applicant pool crossed the 30,000 mark for the first time in school history and Princeton experienced a 19 percent bump in applications received.
Once the excitement wears off over the continued popularity of UVA as a ‘best value’ university, hard decisions will have to be made about possibly substantial tuition increases both for residents and out-of-state students. Hopefully this information will be available to prospective freshmen at the same time admissions decisions are posted online in late March.