March 9, 2015
This is the first story in a three-part series focusing on the All In For Excellence fundraising initiative.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The NCAA recently passed legislation allowing members of the “Power Five” conferences to increase student-athlete scholarships to include the full cost of attendance, starting with the 2015-16 academic year.
In August 2014, members of these conferences — the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC — were granted autonomy by the NCAA to create their own legislation. At the first meeting of the autonomy group, on Jan. 17, several new measures were passed, including the addition of full cost of attendance, and UVa was among the schools voting in favor of the new benefit programs.
The cost-of-attendance stipend helps student-athletes cover travel expenses, personal expenses and school supplies.
“Our primary focus is providing student-athletes with the best possible experience while they’re here,” said Craig Littlepage, UVa’s director of athletics. “These new legislative measures, including the full cost of attendance, help us do just that, but they also come with a price.”
“Adding this expense is a financial challenge for many schools as I talk to my colleagues across the country. It’s important for Virginia athletics to provide the maximum benefits allowed by the NCAA and enable us to attract the top student-athletes in the country.”
The implementation of full cost of attendance was one of the reasons Virginia athletics launched, on Feb. 17, the first phase of its All In For Excellence fundraising initiative.
“UVa student-athletes could not compete for championships and we couldn’t provide outstanding educational opportunities without the generous support of our donors and fans,” Littlepage said. “They’ve stepped up time and again and they will continue to play a vital role in our success. That’s why All In For Excellence is meaningful. We need everyone associated with Virginia Athletics to continue to invest in our programs and help us reach our goals.”
The University’s 2015-16 figures for full cost of attendance, which will be determined using a federal formula, have yet to be finalized. For the 2014-15 academic year, however, each scholarship student-athlete from the state of Virginia would have received around $3,200 as a stipend for the full cost of attendance.
Full scholarship student-athletes from outside the state would have received approximately $3,500 to $4,500 apiece, depending on how far from Charlottesville they lived.
Natalie Bausback, a junior middle hitter on UVa’s volleyball team, is from Carlsbad, Calif., near San Diego.
“I think it will be very beneficial,” Bausback said of the cost-of-attendance stipend, “especially coming from California, when plane tickets are $700, $800. I know that will help my family out a lot, and me, with the cost of plane tickets.”
Bausback lives in off-Grounds housing, and the money she currently receives from the University for room “doesn’t fully cover each monthly rent,” she said.
The stipend will remedy that, and it will allow some of her teammates to remain in their apartments for 2015-16.
“The prices were actually going up next year,” Bausback said, “and I know some people were considering moving out and trying to find somewhere else, because they can’t pay for the cost of their apartment.”
UVa sponsors 25 sports, all of which receive the full scholarship funding allowed by the NCAA. The full grants-in-aid for these 25 sports — 316.6 in all — are divided among about 650 student-athletes.
Since 2008, the cost of a full scholarship at UVa has risen approximately 50%, with an out-of-state scholarship increasing from $35,000 to $53,000.
The Virginia Athletics Foundation has traditionally established and promoted a goal for its annual fund, the primary source of funding for athletics scholarships. The annual fund also covers the costs of academic support for student-athletes and a portion of the operational budget for Olympic sports.
Figuring in the cost-of-attendance stipend, a full scholarship for an out-of-state student-athlete at UVa will exceed $57,500 in 2015-16. (It will be about $27,500 for in-state student-athletes.)
The VAF’s original annual fund goal for 2015, established before the new NCAA measures for the autonomy group were passed, was $16.17 million, an increase of $770,000 from the 2014 goal. Each year VAF has to plan for tuition increases of 4-5 percent as approved by the University’s Board of Visitors each spring.
The All In For Excellence fundraising effort includes the existing annual fund as well as support for the full cost of attendance for scholarship student-athletes. For the 2015-16 academic year, the implementation of the full cost of attendance is projected to cost an additional $1.33 million.
A number of student-athletes compete as graduate students at Virginia each year. The cost-of-attendance stipend will increase for these students, with housing, course supplies, and cost of living factored at a higher rate.
Malcolm Brogdon, a guard on the Virginia men’s basketball team, is enrolled in a master’s program in UVa’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. Brogdon, who’s from Atlanta, will have a year of eligibility remaining after this season.
Like Bausback, Brogdon believes the stipends for full cost of attendance will have a positive impact on UVa student-athletes.
“I think it benefits us in not only making us more comfortable,” Brogdon said, “but when we do want to go home, it’s not a stressor to us, it’s not a stressor to our families, having to pay for that flight home. It makes everything easier.”
The extra money should also help student-athletes better supplement the five meals they can eat every week in the John Paul Jones Arena dining hall.
“Being able to go out and eat healthy food and really improve what you eat every day, and your diet, can mean a whole lot of benefits for you and the program and the University overall,” Brogdon said. “As everybody’s eating better, I think you have more success, and there’s a benefit in every area.”
Healthier food often costs more, Brogdon noted, and student-athlete sometimes choose cheaper, less nutritious options. “So I think this financial benefit will really make a big difference for us,” he said.
Brogdon was pleased to learn the University’s cost of attendance is factored at a higher rate for graduate students.
“I think it’s a different level of work at the graduate level, honestly, not just speaking for myself, but for other graduate students in various degrees,” Brogdon said. “It’s tough. It’s more time-consuming. You’re spending more time studying. More of your time is consumed off the court. And I think this can only help, expanding your resources.”