The University of Mary Washington now offers a tuition promise for Pell-eligible Virginia students, closing any gap in tuition funding for in-state students who qualify for Federal Pell Grants.
Students who qualify for the program at the University of Mary Washington through Pell-eligibility as determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will receive direct financial assistance toward their undergraduate degree in the form of full tuition funding and are eligible for immediate, responsive assistance for short-term emergencies too, thanks to additional grant support, from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
The initiative opens the door to more students having access to a high-quality, affordable college experience, at a public liberal arts and sciences college with a mission of student success, from expert in-class instruction with faculty and industry experts (no teaching assistants) through experiences beyond the classroom, including study abroad, internships and undergraduate research.
“UMW has long been committed to student success from entry to completion and even life and career after graduation,” said UMW Provost Tim O’Donnell. “This grant energizes these efforts because it provides both the financial and human resources to help students stay on track to realizing their goals.”
UMW’s Tuition Promise starts for Pell-eligible Virginia students in the 2024-25 academic year. Pell-eligibility is determined when students and their families complete the FAFSA, and UMW encourages families with an annual gross income (AGI) of $100,000 or less to start the application for both UMW and the FAFSA, when it opens in December. If students are determined to be eligible, UMW will help close the gap on any remaining need for full-tuition.
Fees, housing and dining costs will still need to be calculated and considered, and may be covered through additional state grants, institutional gifts and financial aid, including student loans. The grant funding for Pell-eligible students ensures that tuition is covered and they have one less financial challenge in college.
The recently awarded SCHEV grant – nearly $4 million over four years – will allow UMW to further efforts to support Pell-eligible students through additional programs, personnel and funding with the potential to improve circumstances through college completion and Life After Mary Washington.
Pivotal to the plan is the creation of the Center for Student Transition, Access and Retention Services (STARS), which will serve as a foundation for Pell-eligible students, welcoming them to college life and fostering a sense of community, belonging and support. STARS will build on UMW’s Student Transition Program (STP), a 14-day, all-costs-covered summer immersion experience for underrepresented students that began more than two decades ago, and the STP program will double in size to accommodate 100 participants each year rather than 50.
Key roles – a retention specialist and a financial aid counselor – will be added to University staff to develop student resources, provide support and initiate trainings to help the campus community encourage a larger population of undergraduates with an elevated retention risk. Funding will also support the introduction of for-credit courses to instill strategies for achieving success and college completion grants to allow for direct financial support to cover shortfalls and provide emergency assistance.
“This Pell Initiative Grant is a game-changer!” said UMW Registrar Rita Dunston. “The creation of STARS speaks directly to ASPIRE principles and values of UMW. It’s not enough to simply get them enrolled in college and provide support through the first year. It’s a commitment to create a culture of support and connection through degree completion. STARS will serve as the strategic and operational champion that will assist these students.”
The plan encompasses Pell-eligible students transferring to Mary Washington from other schools, ensuring that students at any stage of their college career with Pell-eligibility receive the maximum funding available toward their tuition.
Visit our website to find out if you are eligible, next steps, FAQ’s and to apply using a free fee waiver code on the CommonApp.