University of Virginia President Jim Ryan on Friday announced a substantial investment in a fund that provides opportunities for more students to fully participate in the University’s enriching residential experience.
UVA’s renowned residential experience – featuring a wide array of opportunities and experiences built on a foundation of student self-governance – provides many students with their most memorable and cherished times on Grounds. But not all students have ample resources to fully experience it while here.
The new $10 million Cavalier Fund investment, announced at the fall meeting of the UVA Parents Council, aims to address some of those situations by providing matching funds for gifts that enable additional grants to qualifying students who otherwise might not be able to afford to deeply engage.
“This will be a fund available for students with the idea to allow them to fully participate in the life of the University,” Ryan said. “I think this will be one of the more significant things that UVA does, and a way to differentiate the University.”
The $10 million in University funds announced Friday will be used to match gifts to create a permanent source of funding for endowments. UVA will match 50 cents on each $1 for any endowed gift commitment of more than $100,000 that is paid within five years.
Under a pilot program, undergraduate students who currently meet the financial guidelines for federal Pell Grants may apply for Cavalier Fund grants of up to $500 per academic year.
“I am thrilled about this pledge and the opportunities it will provide our students,” Vice President and Dean of Students Robyn Hadley said. “President Ryan’s commitment to the Cavalier Fund supports the vision that more students, regardless of means, can participate fully and more broadly in the academic enrichment and co-curricular activities central to student life at the University.
“The Division of Student Affairs is deeply grateful for the myriad ways this fund will enhance our efforts to build the best student experience in the nation, one that is accessible to all.”
Grants could be used for items such as travel to a lecture, museum or competition related to academic or co-curricular experiences. They might help cover expenses related to service opportunities or events sponsored by Madison House, Alternative Spring Break or other activities. The grants could cover the cost of supplies for enrichment programming, or the cost of attending or participating in pre-professional or research-related experiences.
The Cavalier Fund grants could be used for membership in registered student organizations, but do not cover for-credit activities or things already covered by tuition and fees, or items covered by financial aid such as books, rent, food or personal items.
“We want all our students to get the most out of their time with their classmates, and we want them to be able to give their best, too,” Vice Provost for Enrollment Stephen Farmer said. “Grants from the Cavalier Fund won’t just benefit the great students who receive them; they’ll benefit everyone around those students, and our common life on Grounds.”
UVA already commits to covering the full, demonstrated need of all undergraduate students. It covers the full cost of tuition and fees for in-state undergraduates with family incomes under $80,000 and covers tuition and fees, room and board for those from families with incomes under $30,000. Any need-based loans that are part of financial aid packages are also capped for Virginians.
This commitment to offering access through robust financial aid has earned UVA repeated recognition, including being named for two consecutive years by Princeton Review as the best public university for financial aid in the country.
Vice President for Advancement Mark Luellen said organizers hope the Cavalier Fund will grow to at least $30 million, including private philanthropy, positioning it to indefinitely provide grants from endowment earnings.
“This is an extension of all the great work currently supporting student financial aid, a commitment that allows us to recruit the very best students regardless of their financial need,” he said. “The Cavalier Fund gives UVA another tool to maximize the value of the student experience, which is unlike that anywhere else.”