Study: Higher Education Funding in Virginia Distributed Inequitably – Diverse: Issues in Higher Education


With five of the 11 worst public colleges for working class and low-income student enrollment being located in Virginia, researchers at Education Reform Now (ERN) is putting a public spotlight on higher education within the state.

Earlier this year, the first report “Scratching the Surface: De Facto Segregation by Race & Class in Virginia Higher Education” found that student populations at the majority of Virginia colleges and universities were not representative of the state’s demographics.

James Murphy

In 2019, over 18,000 Black students graduated from Virginia high schools. though Washington and Lee University only enrolled four. Both Christopher Newport University and the College of William & Mary are situated within 50 miles of multiple counties with over a 40% Black population, but Black students represent only 7% at each institution, according to the research.

Expanding on student demographics and enrollment, the recently released second report “Higher Education School Finance Inequity and Inadequacy in Virginia” focused on financial aid and college affordability.

“One of the things about Virginia is it has got an incredible reputation for public universities,” said James Murphy, lead author of the report and senior policy analyst at ENR. “The University of Virginia is an amazing institution, William and Mary is an amazing institution. But it is not even serving its own citizens.”

Compared to community colleges, four-year institutions in Virginia
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