Access UVA: Student Access Initiative Proposal

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There has been much debate surrounding the future of AccessUVA amongst members of the University community in the past year. AccessUVA, a financial aid program through U.Va., “guarantees 100 percent of the demonstrated need of students admitted to the University,” thus ensuring that U.Va. is “need-blind” in its admissions process.

In the past, AccessUVA provided students from economically-struggling households with grants to cover the cost of tuition. In mid-2013, the leaders of AccessUVA announced that, due to the growing numbers of U.Va. students who qualified for financial aid, the fund would have to be restructured to ensure the sustainability of the program im the future. In order to guarantee all admitted students the opportunity to attend U.Va., AccessUVA stated that would require in- and out-of-state students to take out a loans in tandem with the grants that they received.

For many students from lower-income backgrounds, even a small amount of debt can be overwhelming, leading to a large debate across the U.Va. community about the program, as well as subsequent discussion amongst student groups about what they could do to help.

Third Year College student Olivia Beavers decided that students are the answer to ensuring that their fellow peers are able to continue to attend U.Va. loan-free. Along with a few others, Beavers has introduced the Student Access Initiative (SAI) to the University community.

At an Open Table discussion at OpenGrounds on Thursday, Beavers presented her ideas for the structure the SAI, which will aim to encourage Contracted Independent Organizations (CIOs) on Grounds to raise $3,500 (the current loan value for one student receiving AccessUVA funds) in order to ensure that recipients will not have to worry about this student loan debt.

During her presentation, Beavers emphasized that she hopes to get a plethora of student organizations involved in raising money, including members of the Greek community, club sports, and arts organizations. The money raised will be distributed anonymously, giving students the opportunity to help those in need in a quieter fashion. Beavers hopes to continue to discuss the SAI with administrators at U.Va., and will soon begin to introduce the idea to CIOs on Grounds.

With the plethora of minds that congregate at OpenGrounds on a daily basis, the space provides the SAI with the perfect opportunity to ensure that a number of CIOs get involved. Ensuring that all students have the ability to afford to attend U.Va. is of central importance to OpenGrounds, as it will allow more students in different disciplines to learn and grow from one another.

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