College Board cites several advantages to earning a bachelor’s degree, including greater chances of employment and higher income potential. In addition to professional and personal enrichment, education also benefits the larger economy. A well-educated workforce attracts businesses, and an area’s education policies raise the overall desirability as a place to work and live. American colleges and universities continue to increase their online offerings to keep up with the demand for workers holding the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. Most states support online learning by allowing online students to pay in-state tuition, regardless of where they reside.
Higher Learning Initiatives in Virginia
Coursera and the University of Virginia
The University of Virginia recently teamed up with Coursera to offer free online classes to the public. As a company, Coursera chooses to partner with prominent schools then carefully selects the course offerings that their partnership offers. Presently, these classes do not qualify for official college credit, but they join the bigger movement that embraces online education as a whole. Initiatives like this can likely lead to an increase in online schools in Virginia as a whole.
The recent agreement with Coursera proves Virginia’s dedication to enhancing the future of education. A few years ago, Virtual Virginia started, a program geared toward high school students looking to earn college credit online even before receiving their diploma. Virtual Virginia offers students the opportunity to take advanced placement courses online. Online education in Virginia has become a more convenient, efficient process that can alter to fit the needs of each individual.
Electronic Campus of Virginia
The Electronic Campus of Virginia is an initiative that connects people with the course offerings of Virginia’s public and private higher learning institutions. The comprehensive list details a myriad of course selections, including those offered exclusively online. Like other connected education experiences, this project aims to increase accessibility and convenience of higher education.
Popular Degree Programs in Virginia
Agricultural and forest-related industries still drive most of Virginia’s economy forward with a total industry output of $91 billion. However, due to the state’s proximity to the nation’s capital, international relations has also become a popular college major. Additionally, with more than 280 aerospace-related companies in the state, the aerospace industry attracts its share of enrollees.
- International Studies: A multidisciplinary major, the international studies concentration draws from several disciplines, including history, politics, and economics. Due to Virginia’s geographical proximity to Washington, D.C., students can access internship opportunities more difficult to match in other states.
- Aerospace Engineering: Virginia’s long-standing connection with the aerospace industry, which began in 1917, gives rise to several employment opportunities in the industry for students with an aerospace degree. The $7.6 billion industry employs aerospace graduates not only in the engineering field, but also in research and development, manufacturing, and commercial flight testing and operation.
Paying for College in Virginia
Tuition often makes up the single largest expense when going to college, especially when you decide to pursue a degree online, as you often do not incur additional expenses for transportation and room and board. This also holds true when you enroll in a Virginia college online. As tuition rates increase across the country, college affordability becomes a major concern for many American families.
As the table below shows, Virginia charges a higher in-state tuition rate than the U.S. average for both public two- and four-year institutions. The Old Dominion State also ranks lower in the U.S. News & World Report list of most affordable states, rated as the 31st least affordable state. Rent, transportation, food, and other living expenses cost more in Virginia, therefore driving up the cost of education.
Average Price for In-State Tuition and Fees by Institution Type, 2017-18
|Public Two Year||Public Four Year|
Source: College Board
Employment Outlook in Virginia
Virginia’s unemployment rate, currently 0.9% lower than the national average, means graduates face a healthy job market after completing their bachelor’s degree. Additionally, Virginia’s high literacy level draws businesses to the state, further increasing the chances for employment. The percentage of Virginia’s population with bachelor’s degrees (36.9%) has exceeded the national average (30.5%) for several years. Virginia’s annual mean wage ($53,980) means job seekers earn slightly more than their counterparts in the country, where the average annual mean wage stands at only $50,620. Despite the relatively higher cost of college education, Virginia offers its graduates a robust job market and higher-than-average annual incomes.
Accreditation for Colleges in Virginia
Both the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognize several regional and national accrediting organizations. Schools voluntarily seek accreditation as a way to let students, teachers, patrons, and other stakeholders know that they meet the standards set by the accrediting bodies. Some online programs receive separate accreditation, but they usually benefit from the accreditation status of the college or university that offers them. Regional accrediting bodies accredit public, nonprofit, degree-oriented institutions, while national accrediting bodies typically cover for-profit, private schools. Most colleges and universities seek regional accreditation.
Accreditation matters mainly for two reasons. First, the ED provides financial aid (grants, scholarships, student loans, and work-study programs) only through accredited online colleges in Virginia. With the ever-increasing cost of a college education, the majority of college-bound students need financial assistance to help pay for their education. Since most schools charge the same basic tuition for online and on-campus students, accreditation makes a difference whether you attend a Virginia college online or onsite.
Accreditation also plays an important role in transferring credits. Accredited colleges and universities often do not readily accept credits earned from non-accredited schools. Some regionally accredited institutions do not accept credits earned from schools with only national accreditation.
Scholarships for Virginia Online College Students
Virginia encourages its residents to pursue a college education by offering several funding options. These financial assistance programs help bring down the cost of attending college, giving more students the chance to earn a college degree. Whether you plan to pursue an entire program off campus or just enroll in a handful of online college courses in Virginia, the scholarships listed below can get you started on your higher education journey.
- Academic Common Market (ACM) Tuition Savings Program
Who Can Apply: This program benefits Virginia residents accepted to an out-of-state participating institution for a program not offered in Virginia schools. The program entitles out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition.
- Granville P. Meade Scholarship
Who Can Apply: High school seniors with outstanding academic record can apply for this scholarship through their principal’s office. Applicants must show financial need and be accepted to a four-year program at one of the state’s public or private colleges.
Amount: $2,000 per year for four years
- Lee-Jackson Scholarship
Who Can Apply: To apply, junior and senior high school students attending a Virginia private or public school, or home school program must submit an essay on the legacy of General Robert E. Lee and/or General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Applicants must plan to attend a U.S. four-year college or university.
Amount: $12,000 for overall first place winner; $6,000 for second place winner; and $3,000 for third place winner
- Tuition Grant for Foster Children
Who Can Apply: Virginia residents who resided in foster care or special needs adoption programs when they received their high school diploma can apply for this financial aid opportunity. The program covers Virginia community colleges only.
- Two-Year College Transfer Grant
Who Can Apply: The program considers applications from graduates of a two-year Virginia college (with an associate degree) who have been accepted to a four-year Virginia institution with at least a 3.0 GPA. The family must demonstrate an estimated contribution of $12,000 or under.
Amount: Up to $1,000 (with an additional $1,000 for students enrolling in specific programs)
- Virginia Commonwealth Award
Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate applicants must prove admittance to a two- or four-year Virginia institution, be enrolled at least half-time, and demonstrate financial need.
- Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program
Who Can Apply: VGAP applicants must be a graduate of a Virginia high school, show a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5, and be accepted to a two- or four-year Virginia college. Schools select award recipients based on their FAFSA information.
Amount: Varies (maximum award equals the cost of tuition, fees, and book allowance)
- Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program
Who Can Apply: Spouses and dependent children (age 16-29) of U.S. service members killed, taken prisoner, or permanently disabled during active duty can apply for this funding opportunity. Applicants must enroll or be enrolled in a Virginia public college or university.
Amount: Tuition and fee waiver, plus (as funds are available) additional stipend ($1,900) to cover other educational expenses
- Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program
Who Can Apply: Applicants must be enrolled in an approved undergraduate or graduate teacher education program. Award recipients agree to teach in the Virginia public school system for at least two years if they received the full loan/scholarship amount.
Amount: Up to $10,000 in scholarship loan
- Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (VTAG)
Who Can Apply: VTAG assists students attending accredited nonprofit, private institutions. Applicants must be Virginia residents, enrolled full-time, and going to college for an education other than theological studies or religious formation.
Amount: $3,270 (maximum award amount for 2018-19)
Resources for Students in Virginia
- 1-2-3 Go! Program: The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia co-administers this three-step program with the Educational Credit Management Corporation. The program sponsors several College Nights throughout the state aimed to connect with college-bound students and their families. These sessions provide attendees with current information about Virginia higher education institutions, college admission trends and requirements, and federal and private financing options.
- Gear Up Virginia (GUV): The program offers college preparatory services and skills development training to seventh-grade students through their first year in college. Students go on college visits, receive tutoring, and attend financial planning workshops also open to their families. GUV students receive a one-time award of up to $2,000 based on their college enrollment status.
- I Am the One: The website provides information on different college majors, Virginia colleges and universities, various career paths, and state financial assistance programs. I Am the One caters to college-bound students, parents, high school counselors, and college admissions personnel. It serves as a guide to help high school seniors become college freshmen.
- Opportunities-College Planning Publication: Opportunities is a free college publication (online PDF) that helps students and families choose the right college by providing relevant information on important topics like financial aid and college admission requirements. Visitors can choose to download an English or Spanish version of the PDF.
- Virginia Education Wizard: The Virginia Education Wizard targets students, veterans, and professionals looking for a range of information, including how to pay for college, transfer agreements, and fresh career pathways. The wizard presents data on all the two- and four-year colleges and universities in the state on an interactive state map, giving visitors easy access to relevant information.
Online Schools in Virginia
- Graduation Rate: 40%
- Average Net Price: $21,537
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: $12,269
- Graduation Rate: 34%
- Average Net Price: $20,175
Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: $18,593
Eastern Mennonite University
- Graduation Rate: 59%
- Average Net Price: $20,492
George Mason University
- Graduation Rate: 66%
- Average Net Price: $18,075
- Graduation Rate: 59%
- Average Net Price: $27,085
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
- Graduation Rate: 41%
- Average Net Price: $23,561
James Madison University
- Graduation Rate: 80%
- Average Net Price: $16,718
- Graduation Rate: 46%
- Average Net Price: $23,633
Mary Baldwin University
- Graduation Rate: 49%
- Average Net Price: $16,715
Norfolk State University
- Graduation Rate: 36%
- Average Net Price: $13,532
Old Dominion University
- Graduation Rate: 49%
- Average Net Price: $12,925
Virginia Beach, VA
- Graduation Rate: 36%
- Average Net Price: $16,663
Virginia Baptist College
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: $66,76
Virginia Commonwealth University
- Graduation Rate: 56%
- Average Net Price: $20,666
University of Virginia-Main Campus
- Graduation Rate: 93%
- Average Net Price: $16,523
Virginia International University
- Graduation Rate: N/A
- Average Net Price: N/A