When it comes to higher education, there is one topic that is never far from my own mind or that of the public: how much college costs. I am proud that Longwood has taken the lead in Virginia over the last four years with, by a wide margin, the smallest tuition increases of any four-year public university.
Still, many of our students and their families cannot afford Longwood on their own, and rely on a combination of state and federal student aid as well as scholarship dollars provided by the Longwood University Foundation. More than half of our students receive either grants from the government or Foundation scholarships that lower what they have to pay or borrow. Scholarships aren’t just essential for getting students in the door of college. They’re also extraordinarily effective at keeping students on track to graduation: The retention rate for students who receive scholarships from the Longwood University Foundation is well above 90 percent.
The good news is we’ve been making sure Longwood remains accessible to a broad range of students. The proportion of ﬁrst-generation college students in our entering freshman class has grown from 14 percent to 19 percent in just two years. Over four years, the number of Longwood students receiving Pell Grants—the federal award for students from the very lowest-income families—has increased 13 percent, and the number of students from underrepresented groups has increased by more than a quarter. That said, there is still tremendous ground to cover—and given the long-term prospects for state support, we will likely have to cover much of that ground ourselves. Longwood’s scholarship endowment of roughly $36 million provides about $1.6 million in scholarships annually, which on a per-student basis does not go far compared with many of our peer institutions.
These scholarship funds overseen by the Longwood University Foundation are often donated in honor of friends and relatives, or favorite teachers, or to support students in particular ﬁelds. There is almost nothing in our work more satisfying than the connection Longwood helps make between scholarship donors and the roughly 430 undergraduate students who receive their help each year. That connection is on vivid display each February, when many donors and recipients meet in person at our annual scholarship dinner. Still, every year talented young people who would love to come to Longwood—and would thrive here—choose another institution because we cannot offer sufﬁcient ﬁnancial aid.
That is why, even amidst other important priorities, I continue to make fundraising for scholarships a top focus. In recent months, the Longwood University Foundation has begun to freshly direct its energies toward boosting our scholarships and improving how we deploy scholarship dollars to help students. The goal is to do the most possible good with every dollar our supporters have generously contributed, ensuring those funds get to the neediest and most deserving students. The Foundation staff and board, representing some of Longwood’s most loyal and committed supporters, have taken up that challenge, working hard on new strategies and practices to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep costs and student debt down.
Thank you for your support of Longwood, which truly does transform lives down through the generations.
W. Taylor Reveley IV
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