The Need: Affordable Higher Education
In today’s global economy, obtaining an undergraduate degree is more important than ever – it teaches you critical thinking and writing skills, makes you more competitive in the job market, and gives you a richer world understanding. An undergraduate degree is a key factor in helping to alleviate long term social inequality and wealth disparities. Public opinion polls support this thesis – “more than 7 in 10 Americans say it is very important to have a certificate or degree beyond high school” and “2/3s of Americans say that higher education is very important [in] getting a good job and improving earning potential.”
Yet, one of the biggest barriers in obtaining an undergraduate degree is cost. Seventy-four percent of Americans believe that “higher education is not affordable for everyone who needs it” and one article has illustrated the dramatic impact – from 1985 until 2013, the cost of higher education has exploded more than 500%, compared with an increase of 285% for medical costs and a 121% increase in the consumer price index.
U.Va. has not been immune to these changes. In 1999, the tuition for an in-state and out-of-state student was $4,130 and $16,603 respectively. In 2014, it was $14,809 and $43,170, an increase of 350% and 260% respectively. And, the numbers previously mentioned paint only a portion of the picture because the true price tag of obtaining an undergraduate degree is what’s called the “cost of attendance” or COA. The COA includes tuition, fees, housing, and living expenses. In 2014, the total COA for an in-state and out-of-state student at U.Va. was $27,092 and $56,558, respectively. For many low-income and middle-class American families, the cost of an undergraduate education is increasingly becoming unattainable.
The Need for A/APA Students
It’s well known that Asian and Asian Pacific Americans (A/APA) are the highest-income, best-educated, and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. However, it is important to understand that the A/APA community is not homogenous and includes a diverse group of citizens from numerous countries – many of whom are in need of assistance and cannot afford higher education.
In the fall of 2013, 48% of A/APA students received financial aid. Upon graduation, the average amount of debt for A/APA students was almost $17,000. The Asian and Asian Pacific American Alumni Network (AAPAAN) believes that students who have the academic drive and have demonstrated a strong commitment to the A/APA community should always be able to receive a high-quality education without the worry of having to take on a second job, taking on the burden of thousands of dollars in student debt, or enduring the possibility of their parents’ mortgaging their homes or dipping into their retirement savings to fund their education.
The Solution: AAPAAN’s Academic Scholarship
AAPAAN is the largest ethnic-based alumni group at U.Va., representing more than 15,000 A/APA alumni.
AAPAAN’s mission is three-fold:
1) To provide A/APA alumni with a network that promotes personal and professional growth;
2) To give a give a greater voice to the A/APA community at U.Va. and beyond; and
3) To endow a substantial and sustainable scholarship program for U.Va. students.