Priority 1: Increase Student Opportunity and Access to Higher Education

Our goal is to become a national model institution offering opportunities for educating students from all backgrounds to attain high academic achievement and employment success rates.

Academics is the cornerstone of any long-range plan for Virginia State.  As we grow our campus and our student population, we will retain the characteristics on which we were built and continue to stand.  We will continue to provide a rich cultural environment where students receive an outstanding support system that is family oriented and results driven.  Our students are taught and nurtured by caring faculty who are accomplished in their field of expertise. This unique combination will further enhance our students’ successful employability.

According to the Virginia plan for Higher Education, total debt and the number of borrowers in Virginia has increased steadily over the last 20 years.  As a result, we understand that increasing a students’ opportunity and access to education lies in our ability to meet their financial needs.  While we can increase the academic acumen and abilities of our students, their socio-economic profile is unique in that more than ninety percent of students qualify for financial aid. More than seventy percent of our students receive Pell grants. We will work to implement a student academic success plan designed to improve retention and graduation rates. In addition, we will work collaboratively to help our students complete requirements for their degree in order to achieve their career and professional goals.

Complete College America has estimated that it can cost upward of $50,000 for each additional year for an individual to attend college.  This calculation is based on both cost of college plus lost wages. To enhance Virginia State’s ability to attract, recruit, and retain the best students and to address the impact of financial needs in our recruiting and retention efforts, we will educate and seek financial support from the General Assembly, corporate sponsors and alumni to assist with Student Gap Funding.  We will develop a sustainable financial support structure for tuition, fees, and room and board.  We will continue to grow our merit and need based scholarship award program by increasing the awards of our unique Presidential and Provost Scholars programs.  This plan continues to reward hard work and ensure that we support our academically gifted students to secure their retention.  Our expected support from lawmakers and our external stakeholders, will allow us to assist in expanding our unique retention programs contained within our newly created Academic Center for Excellence (ACE.)  In addition, we will further enhance our Financial Aid Expo held each year where we provide information regarding the FAFSA, Scholarships, College Work-study and other means of financial assistance to our current and potential students.

A part of affordability lies in reducing the amount of time a student spends working toward their degree. To that end, we will implement a university wide comprehensive student academic success plan.   

In 2019, the VSU retention rate for full time in college (FTIC) students stood at 66%.  We will put plans in place to increase that number to 75% by 2025.  In addition, VSU currently awards an average of 880 degrees per academic year. We will increase that number to no less than 1000 by the target year 2025.  See chart for additional key performance indicators.

Priority 1 Objectives:

Ensure affordability and reduce the financial obligation for all students

Strategic Actions

  • Educate and seek financial support from the General Assembly, corporate sponsors and alumni to assist with Student Gap Funding
  • Develop a sustainable financial support structure for  tuition, fees, and room and board
  • Develop a comprehensive financially sustainable scholarship award program to support student enrollment, retention, and persistence

Implement a comprehensive enrollment, marketing and management plan to attract, recruit, retain and reclaim students and increase the enrollment yield

Strategic Actions

  • Develop, and implement a comprehensive marketing plan to share the VSU story with stakeholders, and the Commonwealth as a leading University committed to solving Commonwealth, national, and world challenges through excellence in education, innovation, and research
  • Engage alumni to advance university goals and priorities with marketing and student recruitment
  • Engage in active data analysis to identify target markets, student profile, and ideal number of students to achieve desired enrollment
  • Develop recruitment packages that market the distinctiveness of the academic programs, and co-curricular services at the University
  • Establish a Trojan Degree Completion Program for VSU students who have stopped out
  • Increase articulation agreements with two and four year colleges 
  • Integrate information technology systems to increase the efficiency of  applications processing and response time for students

Establish a diverse and inclusive learning environment

Strategic Actions

  • Establish a collaborative definition of diversity that represents VSU’s brand and campus-wide community
  • Integrate culturally responsive pedagogy and practices into  the curricula of all programs
  • Provide ongoing diversity training and workshops for administration, faculty, staff and students that will create safe spaces for conversations and cultural exchanges
  • Identify cultural attributes amongst individuals within recruiting and hiring practices to provide a broader lens of diversity and inclusion amongst the student body and the campus-wide community

Implement a university-wide comprehensive student academic success plan

Strategic Actions

  • Implement academic support counselors and graduation specialists in each College
  • Conduct annual and periodic reviews of all academic and administrative and educational support programs
  • Actively engage all students through a high-tech and high touch tailored services based on profile analysis
  • Administer annual surveys of faculty, staff, and students related to attrition issues and student satisfaction
  • Implement a Summer Bridge Program for incoming freshmen focused on foundational courses, and assimilation to college and enhance student retention and success
  • Develop supplemental instructional programs to support students’ academic progress and progression
  • Engage in data analytics to identify effective strategies that support student retention, persistence, progression and graduation