Scholarship initiative supports 97 students

Virginia Tech students cross the Drillfield

Virginia Tech students cross the Drillfield at the start of the fall 2010 semester.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 29, 2010 – The number of low-income residents of the commonwealth able to attend Virginia Tech at no cost under the university’s Presidential Scholarship Initiative has grown to 97 in the program’s second year of implementation.

The university announced the initiative in June 2008 as a means of keeping higher education accessible to the commonwealth's most talented students, regardless of family income. The first scholarships under the program went to 49 members of the Class of 2013.

Fifty additional students -- split evenly between men and women, and representing 12 counties and 10 cities -- joined the program this semester. Nearly three in four of them are first in their families to go to college.

Their high school grade point average as a group was 3.97. Their average SAT score was 1205. Both averages are greater than the high-school scores of last year’s entrants into in the program.

Students need a 2.75 grade point average to stay in the program -- otherwise they go on scholarship probation and ultimately can lose the aid. All but two students who received scholarships under the initiative in 2009-10 were still in the program at the start of the fall 2010 term.

The university plans to offer up to 50 scholarships to incoming undergraduates each year, for a maximum of 200 when the program is fully implemented. Success of the program is monitored annually, and private donations are expected to fund much of the initiative down the road.

Paula Robichaud, a member of the Class of 1977, of Palo Alto, Calif., who made one of the five largest scholarship-fund gifts to the university in fiscal 2010, is a significant supporter of the initiative. Additional fundraising is ongoing.

Under the initiative, the university covers any tuition, room and board, and school fees that are not already paid by federal Pell Grants or other scholarships.

To qualify for the Presidential Scholarship Initiative program, incoming students must demonstrate strong financial need, as well as high academic and leadership potential. In deciding whom to offer scholarships, officials also consider a student’s family size and whether the student would be first in his or her family to go to college, though those factors are not eligibility requirements. Only in-state students are eligible. The program is overseen by the Virginia Tech’s Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence, Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid, and Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 225 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.