Student debt: How does VCU compare with other schools?

VCU is a major research university with several high-cost programs, such as engineering, arts, medicine and biology (the university's largest major); its tuition is commensurate with that of other Tier III doctoral research institutions. The State Council for Higher Education of Virginia provides a tool for you to compare VCU’s in-state and out-of-state tuition and mandatory fees with other state schools. Access the tool through SCHEV’s website

How does the average debt load for VCU students compare?


According to SCHEV, the mean debt for students attending public four-year institutions in Virginia has grown by 9 percent since 2012 (to $27,733) while the mean debt for VCU students during that same time period grew slightly less at 8 percent (to $30,420). 

What is VCU doing about student debt?

VCU is focusing on controllable factors that affect affordability and financial accessibility. Initiatives include:

  • Creating scholarships for students through the recently launched Make It Real Campaign for VCU, the university’s largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in history
  • Expanding financial aid strategically to support our neediest students and to attract high-performing in and out-of-state students; this year’s budget includes more than $6 million in new funding to support merit and need-based aid for undergraduates and $1.5 million to support graduate aid and related waivers.
  • Counseling VCU students and their families on financial matters through:
    • New student orientation – in person and online
    • The Money Spot at VCU, a peer-to-peer financial coaching service
    • Advisers trained in financial aid policy
  • Providing options like microgrants for students about to head into their final semester to assist with costs
  • Highlighting VCU’s highly successful Do the Math awareness campaign to encourage students to take 15 credits a semester for timely graduation, the results of which include increased credit-hour enrollments from 56 percent of freshmen in fall 2011 to 82 percent in fall 2016

We have a high-risk group, with one-third of our students being first-generation college students and nearly one-third being Pell grant recipients. Even so, the Education Trust has recognized VCU’s strides at closing the graduation gap between minority and white students. Our Pell-eligible students graduate at the same rate as our students who do not receive this grant.

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