Increasing Enrollments of Low-Income Students Is One Task, Retaining Them Is Another Job Altogether

The AccessUVA scholarship program at the University of Virginia meets 100 percent of a student’s financial aid needs with scholarship grants. The program is exclusively for students from low-income families.

But offering attractive financial aid packages is only the first step. The number of low-income students actually enrolling at the University of Virginia remains low. And retaining those low-income students who do gain admission is also a challenging task.

To help low-income students who enroll, the University of Virginia has established the Rainey Academic Program. The program brings low-income students to campus in the summer before they start college. The students take two classes and live in university residence halls. They attend workshops that teach study skills, how to use the library, and how to make curriculum choices.

The program has been conducted the last three summers with between 14 and 19 students attending summer sessions. Because the groups have been small, there has been no conclusive statistical data to prove that the program has been successful in retaining students. However, the university believes the Rainey Academic Program has been well received by all students who have participated.