According to U.S. News & World Report, UVaWise has ranked second nationally amongst liberal arts colleges for its low student debt. This is quite an accomplishment for our college.
With college tuition rising at virtually every university, this milestone is certainly distinguishing. Over half of our student population will graduate without student debt or with loans averaging around $12,000.
Low student debt is important to our community here at UVa-Wise: over half of our students are eligible for PELL Grants, and three-fourths are eligible for other forms of financial aid. UVa-Wise thus offers a distinct advantage to its students by ensuring we graduate with minimal debt.
One reason UVa-Wise’s student loan debt is kept so low is largely due to the substantial amount of scholarship aid our college receives as well as gifts from donors. However, the college should still take steps to minimize increases in tuition and costs. Every year, it has become necessary for colleges to raise tuition and costs, but usually these raises go without additional funds to help offset the costs for students.
Though it is likely futile, I really hope UVa-Wise acquires more funding for scholarships and grants to be given to its student body. Many of our students plan on attending graduate school where they will certainly accumulate a large debt. Attending an undergraduate college and graduating with no debt can be incredibly advantageous for students, and will make graduate school much more accessible to students.
Finding such ways to keep college affordable will definitely be daunting, maybe even impossible. Even so, I still have hope the college can keep its student debt as low as it has. College is expensive for all of us, and will likely remain expensive for years to come.
Despite this, UVa-Wise’s ability to remain affordable is definitely one of its defining qualities and offers its students an advantage upon graduating. I would like to see our college remain as affordable as possible for students, though such a task will surely be difficult.