U.Va. Student Joins Panel on Cost of Higher Education at National Press Club

Oct. 24, 2006 -- University of Virginia student Kyle L. Mihalcoe joined several higher education leaders for a presentation this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., releasing the latest findings of the College Board about trends in the actual costs of higher education.

The panel discussed three new data sets published by the College Board that are considered definitive studies of the actual costs of higher education, taking into account federal, state and institutional financial aid, student loans and college pricing, explained Robin White, a project manager for the AccessUVa financial aid program at the University of Virginia.

Mihalcoe and a student from Johns Hopkins University sat on the panel with higher education leaders including Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board; the presidents of Vassar College and Middlesex Community College; and the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The panelists discussed a number of related issues, such as: How much do students actually pay after grants and tax benefits are considered? How do average net prices vary by institution type, and how have they changed over time? How much financial aid debt does the average college student graduate with? What proportion of student loans comes from banks and other private lenders versus the federal government, and how has this changed over time?

Mihalcoe was recommended for the event by the Office of Student Financial Services at U.Va. He is a second-year student majoring in drama and government, who hopes to one day run for public office, with an “out-there dream” to become governor of Virginia.

He chose to attend U.Va. because of the financial support he was offered through the AccessUVa program, which also demonstrates U.Va.’s commitment to create a student body drawn from diverse economic backgrounds, he explained. “U.Va. has a real devotion to helping less fortunate students. Here, there really isn’t a stigma for being on financial aid,” Mihalcoe said. Thanks to Access UVA, and income he earned last summer working as a lifeguard, part-time at a nursery school and in retail, thus far, Mihalcoe has no student loans to repay.

In the two years since its inception, the AccessUVa program is “breaking new ground and making incoming classes more well-rounded,” Mihalcoe said. Students receiving financial aid “are bringing something extra, new ideas, a perspective that those from upper incomes don’t have that creates a well-rounded academic environment.”

Mihalcoe performs as a member of U.Va.’s Hullabahoos singing group and works in the Virginia Ambassadors, a group of students working with the Office of Admission to give tours and answer questions for prospective students and parents. In his role as one of the ambassadors, Mihalcoe he will return this November to his alma mater, Varina High School in Sandston, Va., just outside of Richmond, and talk with students about attending the University of Virginia.

For more on U.Va.’s innovative financial aid program, AccessUVA, go to http://www.virginia.edu/accessuva/.