From A Recent Blog


“That’s a worthy question, but speaking as the father of a recent U-Va. graduate, I believe that
critics are going overboard. The school is a great bargain. In-state tuition and fees for 2016-2017
are relatively high at more than $19,000, but that isn’t the highest in the state…”

This is where fact and opinion meet.

Fact: UVA has high in-state tuition compared to similar flagship schools in surrounding states.
U Maryland in-state tuition and fees: $10,181. U North Carolina–Chapel Hill: $8566. U Tennessee
in-state tuition and fees: $12,724.

Fact: William and Mary does charge more than UVA but that is because they have different model:
a four year level cost model meaning what you pay freshman year is the same as what you pay
senior year.

Fact: the general assembly has cut funding but tuition increases percentage wise are much higher
than the loss of state funding using the same percentages.

Fact: Tuition and fees at the [Virginia] comprehensive institutions are expected to rank 6th highest nationally.

Fact: the average total cost for an in-state undergraduate student living on campus at a four-year
institution is estimated at 47.6% of average disposable income.

Opinion: bargain–a bargain is a relative comparison of similar products. Compared to the cost of
out-of-state tuition, UVA is a bargain. Compared to the cost of JMU, UVA is not a bargain. If most
of the people in your state cannot afford the tuition and fees, then is it a bargain or a means to
educate many high income Virginians?

Yes, UVA does offer financial aid and a few low income students do attend. But the barriers to
admissions and financial aid applications for those with ill-educated parents are very high. How can
you complete a FAFSA when the parent doesn’t know the meaning of some of the words used?

How many lower income families know what tax form they filed (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ)? Yes it is at
the top of the form in smallish print, but most of these families are surprised when I point it out.
And then you add the CSS Profile, the family budget sheet, the tax transcripts, and verification forms.
Families are overwhelmed by paperwork with foreign terms and unfamiliar words.

First, as we all hear, fact check—especially opinion based blogs. Second, is UVA in the business of
upward mobility, educating future generations? Or is UVA in the business of business–keeping profits
against future opportunities, shining in research, and building an endowment to rival Harvard?
Virginians, what do you want to support? Educating the generation that will run the country when you
are old and senile, or contributing the wealth of UVA? I know my vote.

Susan Teerlink is the accountability and admissions coach for College Funding Advisors, LLC,
located in Harrisonburg, VA. She was also a co-author on the book Secrets Of How To Avoid
Overpaying For College  and is involved with GRASP, the Great Aspirations Scholarship
Program, a non-profit based in Richmond, Virginia.  You can read her other articles at

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