Dear Members of the U.Va. Community:
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing higher education today is the need to balance two equally important and equally demanding obligations: to sustain academic excellence while ensuring that a college education remains affordable for students from all financial backgrounds. The University of Virginia has taken a bold step to resolve this dual challenge by creating an historic new program called Affordable Excellence.
Last week, the Board of Visitors invested in the University’s quality by refinancing debt to save on interest charges, increasing the endowment payout, and prudently tapping the interest on required reserves. Finally, the Board used tuition adjustments to make a U.Va. education more affordable for 70% of Virginia families. Likewise, the tuition increase for out-of-state students for the 2015-16 academic year will be the lowest increase in a decade. Barring unforeseen circumstances, we have committed ourselves to making only moderate tuition increases tied to inflation in the years ahead, for both in-state and out-of-state students. This will give families a greater degree of certainty and predictability when planning for the cost of a U.Va. education. As promised through our AccessUVa program, we will continue to admit students on a strictly need-blind basis and meet 100% of all undergraduate students’ demonstrated financial need.
Just as important as its promise of affordability, Affordable Excellence will provide the foundation for sustained quality in the University’s academic enterprise. Specifically, the program ensures that we will be able to make essential investments to implement our strategic plan for U.Va.’s future, the Cornerstone Plan. The Cornerstone Plan includes a broad array of innovative programs that will benefit students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and Affordable Excellence will help us bring the plan’s aspirations to fruition. For more details about Affordable Excellence, visit www.virginia.edu/affordableexcellence.
In a challenging period for all institutions of higher education, Affordable Excellence is a vote of confidence in the University’s future, and the timing is critical. We are now just two years from U.Va.’s bicentennial. Over the years, this University has evolved from a regional university to the global symbol of excellence in education that it has become today. As stewards of this University standing on the brink of its third century, we have an obligation to both our predecessors and the generations who will follow us to sustain and strengthen this great institution. Through Affordable Excellence, we are meeting that obligation with resounding certainty.
Very truly yours,
Teresa A. Sullivan