Financial Aid and Student Loans in Virginia

In the state of Virginia, the average total cost of attendance at a 4 year college is $32,740, and 57% of college graduates leave school with student loan debt. 

Luckily, most states offer scholarships and grants to help students afford higher education. Unlike loans, you won’t have to pay them back after you complete your studies. Apart from the state, many philanthropic organizations offer scholarships as a way to enrich and contribute to their community..

You need to start early to apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible. By keeping track of deadlines and steadily completing each application, you should be able to secure some funding that will help you achieve your college dream without breaking the bank.

What scholarship programs does Virginia have?

There are many different ways in which scholarships receive funds. Some receive money directly from the government to incentivize certain fields and professions. Others receive funds from philanthropic organizations or trust funds. These types of scholarships generally reward academic merit or community involvement.

The sheer variety of scholarships allows students from all walks of life to receive funding. Many scholarships support students who want to study in a certain field, such as education, animal science, engineering, or even fashion. So no matter what your interests, there is likely to be a scholarship that you can apply for.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of scholarships available, we recommend starting with an aggregate site like Niche or Collegeboard. These sites will narrow down your search and help you find scholarships that you’re eligible for in schools you attend. 

Here are some of the more notable scholarships available to Virginians to help you get started.

Virginia Museum Undergrad Fellowship

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts funds an annual fellowship that supports professional artists as well as art and history students. The program has awarded nearly $5.8 million to Virginian artists in its nearly 80 years of existence.

The fellowship gets divided into several categories, including professional and graduate. Full-time undergraduates can expect to receive $4,000, while part-time undergraduates receive $2,000.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria to apply:

  • Must be a citizen of the United States and a current resident of Virginia (and have been so for at least 12 consecutive months) before the application deadline.
  • Enrolled at an accredited Virginia college, university, or school of the arts, paying in-state tuition fees.
  • Must remain a legal Virginia resident for the fellowship period.
  • Must enroll full-time for the academic year of the fellowship period.

The deadline for applications is the 1st of November. All applicants get notified of their application status no later than the first week of February.

ESA Youth Scholarship

The Electronic Security Association funds the scholarship to support children of first responders. It has awarded over $700,000 to deserving students since its inception in 1996.

The scholarship awards $7,500 for the first-place winner and $2,500 for second place. The ESA selects winners based on academic merit, national test scores, and extracurricular participation.

Applicants also must submit an essay about having their parents or guardians involved in serving the community.

You must meet the following eligibility criteria to apply:

  • Must be between the ages of 15 and 20.
  • Must have a mother, father or guardian who is a:
    • A full-time member of the police, sheriff’s department, or fire department.
    • A volunteer member of the fire department.
    • An active-duty police officer, firefighter, paramedic, or EMT.
  • On track to receive their high school diploma or GED equivalent

The deadline for applications is the 10th of April. The ESA will notify winners before June. 

Leo Bourassa Scholarship

The Virginia Lakes and Watershed Association sponsors the Leo Bourassa Scholarship. The organization promotes and educates the public on good lake management to protect the welfare of lakes and other water resources in the state.

The scholarship funds prospective students who are in the field of water resource management and have displayed a passion for sustainable water management practices. Students receive an award of between $500 to $3,000 to pay for tuition and fees. Past winners may also reapply for renewal of the scholarship.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria to apply:

  • Be a resident of Virginia at the time of application and time of the award.
  • Represent a student in good standing at an accredited Virginia college or university.
  • Have completed at least two semesters of undergraduate study.
  • Be enrolled in a degree related to water resources.

Applications close on the 1st of April.

The Jefferson Scholars Foundation

The prestigious scholarship aims to allow undergraduate leaders to develop their talents without worrying about the financial impact of their studies. The scholarship covers all fees associated with attendance at the University of Virginia, as well as the cost of supplemental enrichment exercises.

The total value of a current scholarship is around $280,000 for non-Virginia residents and $150,000 for Virginia residents.

Unlike most scholarships, you can’t apply for a Jefferson Scholarship directly. Instead, eligible schools nominate up to two seniors per year to be Jefferson scholars. The students must then compete in regional competitions before heading to Charlottesville for the selection weekend in March.

Approximately 30 to 40 applicants receive the scholarship from a selection pool of over 2,000 applicants.

Deadlines for the nominations close in December. The first selection period takes place between January and February. The second selection weekend takes place in late March, and the Foundation notifies the winners in March.

What grant programs does Virginia have?

In addition to awarding students based on merit, many grants are available to students that demonstrate sufficient financial need. The state of Virginia offers numerous grants to students from all walks of life. These grants aim to incentivize secondary school students to aspire to higher education despite financial difficulties.

Virginia Commonwealth Awards

This grant is available to all Virginia students who can display a financial need. It does not cover the full cost of tuition but does ease some of the financial burdens. 

The Virginia Commonwealth Awards are limited by funding, though the state tries to assist as many students as possible. The grant is renewable yearly as long as the student continues to meet all the requirements of the Virginia Student Financial Aid Program and displays satisfactory academic progress.

Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program

The Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program provides an incentive to financially needy students to succeed in their studies and aim for higher education. As with the Virginia Commonwealth Awards, students with the greatest need will receive the largest award.

Awards will also vary by institution. Those in the neediest category will receive at least funding for tuition, but may also receive funding for fees and a book allowance. The grant renews on an annual basis for up to three years, as long as the student meets the eligibility criteria.

You don’t need to apply for the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program yourself. Your FAFSA application also enrolls you in the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program automatically.

Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant

Unlike other state grants, the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant is not need-based. It is open to all Virginia residents attending a participating Virginia private college or university. The grant tries to award funds to all applicants, but if that isn’t possible, it uses a priority system. 

You can apply for the VTAG via your institution’s financial aid department. The department will have the most current information about award maximums.

What student loan programs does Virginia have?

Virginia relies on federal student loans and doesn’t provide state-funded loans. As with private loans, federal student loans accrue interest, and you have to pay the loan back after you’ve graduated. While most federal loans have relatively generous repayment terms, they are still expensive, and many graduates struggle with loan repayments for years after they graduate.

In addition to federal student loans, there is the option of private student loans. Banks and lending institutions offer these, often to cover what a federal loan misses in funding. Many offer similar terms to federal student loans, but they aren’t part of any government subsidy or loan forgiveness program. If you need to take out a student loan, try to prioritize loans that can be forgiven or have lenient repayment terms based on your income.

Federal student loans

Prospective Virginia students can receive federal financial aid assistance by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid(FAFSA). 

Private co-signed student loans

There are many private student loan opportunities for those who need additional assistance on top of federal student loans. Many banks, credit unions, and dedicated lending companies offer private student loans, but almost all require a co-signer.

No co-signer student loans in Virginia

Funding U began because we identified thousands of students who were unable to qualify for a private student loan because they didn’t have an eligible co-signer. While we’re no longer the only provider of such loans, we offer no co-signer student loans to career-focused students currently enrolled full time in college. The requirements for receiving a loan are dependent upon the GPA of the student and the graduation rate of the institution they attend. To learn more about our no co-signer student loans click here.

What Schools Does Funding U Lend to in Virginia?

Generally speaking, Funding U’s no co-signer loans are offered to students at eligible four-year, non-profit, undergraduate degree-granting universities (which means we do not lend to for-profit schools, 2-year schools, graduate schools, or trade schools). Our eligibility requirements are based off of models that aim to predict how likely a student is to graduate, and because of that we have minimum GPA requirements that students must meet and minimum 6-year graduation rates that schools must reach in order to be eligible. To find out more about how we determine our eligibility, click here.

Below is a table listing all of the schools in Virginia that Funding U is currently lending to, with additional details on which grades we are currently lending to, based on the school’s 6 year graduation rate. 

School NameFreshman
6 yr
Grad Rate
Averett UniversityNoNoNoNo4262
Bethel CollegeNoYesYesYes8333
Bluefield CollegeNoNoNoNo2952
Bridgewater CollegeNoNoYesYes6475
Christopher Newport UniversityNoYesYesYes7288
College of William and MaryYesYesYesYes9195
Eastern Mennonite UniversityNoNoYesYes6079
Emory & Henry CollegeNoNoYesYes6076
Ferrum CollegeNoNoNoNo2748
George Mason UniversityNoYesYesYes7088
Hampden-Sydney CollegeNoNoYesYes6684
Hampton UniversityNoNoYesYes5878
Hollins UniversityNoNoYesYes5577
James Madison UniversityNoYesYesYes8490
Jefferson College of Health SciencesNoNoNoNo4468
Liberty UniversityNoNoYesYes5084
Longwood UniversityNoNoYesYes6981
Lynchburg CollegeNoNoYesYes6175
Mary Baldwin UniversityNoNoNoNo4765
Marymount UniversityNoNoYesYes5778
Norfolk State UniversityNoNoNoNo3771
Old Dominion UniversityNoNoYesYes5280
Radford UniversityNoNoYesYes5976
Randolph CollegeNoNoYesYes5967
Randolph-Macon CollegeNoNoYesYes6684
Regent UniversityNoNoYesYes5978
Roanoke CollegeNoNoYesYes6784
Shenandoah UniversityNoNoYesYes5881
Southern Virginia UniversityNoNoNoNo3181
Sweet Briar CollegeNoNoNoNo4672
The University of Virginia's College at WiseNoNoNoNo4865
University of Mary WashingtonNoNoYesYes6684
University of RichmondNoYesYesYes8793
University of Virginia-Main CampusYesYesYesYes9496
Virginia Baptist CollegeNoNoYesYes6733
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityNoNoYesYes6783
Virginia International UniversityNoNoYesYes5011
Virginia Military InstituteNoYesYesYes7887
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityNoYesYesYes8493
Virginia State UniversityNoNoNoNo3971
Virginia Union UniversityNoNoNoNo3352
Virginia Wesleyan UniversityNoNoYesYes5263
Washington and Lee UniversityYesYesYesYes9597

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