One HBCU is making major strides in Black History Month after it was announced the University of The Virgin Islands will become the first historically black college to provide free tuition to students!
According to The Virgin Islands Daily News, the program was launched following the signing of Act 8155, titled The Virgin Islands Higher Education Scholarship. It was signed into law due to the country’s need to increase retention to UVI after it suffered greatly following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The small HBCU currently has 1,275 undergraduate students studying programs for Business, Nursing, and Police and Criminal Science. Requirements for the free tuition program include a 2.5 GPA from residents of V.I. who graduated from a private, public or parochial high school. The deadline for FAFSA applications is March 1 and applicants also have to take part in community service projects within seven years of graduating.
Sen Roach shared his excitement with the new program and the benefits it will bring to the future of V.I.
“It’s an exciting time for Virgin Island students and it’s an exciting time for the university,” Sen. Roach said. “[During Hurricane Maria] we saw students challenged economically who would return for one semester and not come back, maybe two semesters and not come back. I’m grateful to Gov. Mapp because he identified funding, the idea was preempted, it was before the legislation and so we fused the financial component of his bill to mine.”
“I want to say to people look at these things not in a vacuum but in the bigger picture. The bigger picture includes looking at our university and what it offers and how we’re going to ensure that the labor needs of the territory are met, that we create meaningful education and employment opportunities for our young people.”
University president Dr. David Hall spoke with Blavity and shared his favor with the new law.
“A college degree is no longer a luxury that the rich and the academically and athletically gifted individuals can obtain,” he said. “Higher education is a basic necessity and must be provided in the same way we provide other basic necessities.”
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