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Contact: Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2008

SCHEV Awarded $1.1 Million Federal Grant to Demystify College

The Commonwealth of Virginia has been awarded $1.1 million through the U.S. Department of Education’s College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP) to increase access to postsecondary education for students from low-income families. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) was selected by Governor Timothy Kaine to administer the grant program, which will provide information and services to help traditionally under-represented students and their families plan for and succeed in post-high school education.

“It is an honor to receive federal funding for such an important year-long, statewide project,” said Daniel J. LaVista, SCHEV Executive Director. “One of our first steps will be to take inventory of the many organizations across the Commonwealth that already provide programs, services, and information to help students and their families successfully make the transition from high school to postsecondary education.”

SCHEV will use Challenge Grant funds to partner with other state agencies, private industry, and non-profit organizations to reach out to Virginia students through an access campaign designed to demystify the college-going process. The agency will work with the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, and the Virginia College Access Network (VirginiaCAN), for example, to conduct a study of existing access service providers. SCHEV invites all such organizations to participate in a survey to help build an inventory of access providers. Visit for details.

Agency staff has already allocated all Challenge Grant funds through the creation of a comprehensive plan that focuses on encouraging students to develop educational goals, increasing awareness of financial aid options, and directing families to local access providers. Funded projects include “College Night Virginia,” educational workshops offered by the Virginia Tidewater Consortium for Higher Education, and “Super Saturday” events to help families fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which is considered the first step in applying for federal and state financial aid. Another of the plan’s focus areas is the creation of professional development opportunities for middle and high school counselors and financial aid and admissions officers at postsecondary educational institutions.

The Challenge Grant plan also features a print and electronic marketing campaign to be capped off by the creation of a state-owned web portal designed to increase students’ knowledge of potential careers and the education options that can help them reach their goals. SCHEV will partner with the Virginia Department of Education, Virginia College Savings Plan, and Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) to establish and fund this online career and educational exploration and planning system.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at or (804) 225-2627.

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