The University of Virginia's College at Wise. Courtesy of UVa Wise.

The University of Virginia’s College at Wise has dropped its $25 application fee. The move is part of a larger streamlining of the admissions process at the school to make it easier to apply and comes as many colleges across the country are struggling with declining enrollment in the wake of lower birth rates decades ago. Figures provided by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia show that most four-year schools in the state saw enrollment decline this fall; see background story.

Students applying to UVA Wise no longer need a combination of test scores, class rankings and grade point average to be admitted. The college now requires a single qualifier.

Students that have or will complete the required high school course work, only need one of the following requirements for acceptance:

  • Student is in the top 50 percent of their class with at least a 2.0 grade point average, or
  • Student has a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, or
  • Student scores a 17 on the ACT or a 900 on the SAT with at least a 2.0 grade point average.

With these new options, students and their parents avoid other costly barriers, the school said in a release. For example, the cost to take the ACT, without the essay portion, is $60. The SAT costs $55.

The school also now promises  to make an acceptance decision within 48 hours of receiving the application and high school transcript. Some cases may require additional information to help the college make that decision, the school says in a release. Also, enrollment deposits, historically required before orientation, have been eliminated.

“We want to make sure we are providing access and affordability to all students, not just in Southwest Virginia or the Appalachian region, but across the Commonwealth and beyond,” said UVA Wise Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Jeffrey Baylor in a statement. “These new policies are aimed at encouraging students to apply and to remove other concerns that may deter or delay their application. We have eliminated as many barriers as possible to help them do just that.”

In a release, UVA Wise said the new policies “align with the College’s continued mission to help under-served and first-generational students receive quality educations.”

In 2019, the college launched the Within Reach program, which provides scholarships covering the cost of tuition and fees for students from Virginian families with an income of $40,000 or less. 

In 2018, the college announced a significantly reduced tuition rate for students living within the Appalachian Regional Commission territory, which includes select counties ranging from New York south to Mississippi.