Blue Skies Ahead for Students in Need

Imagine that you’re a bright young UVA student ready to begin your third year. Brimming with confidence, eager to start that special class or a long-hoped-for internship, you’re confident that all your hard work and sacrifice have paid off. You feel that you’re on track for success.

This fund provides relief to undergraduate students facing unexpected financial hardship.

Then an unexpected text or call comes through. A tuition payment cannot be made, a loved one has fallen ill, a parent has been laid off. In the blink of an eye, financial problems can derail an education and lifelong dreams. Heartbreaking scenarios such as these play out every year on Grounds. This spring, the UVA Parents Fund established a special endowed fund to provide relief to undergraduate students facing unexpected financial hardship.

The aptly named Parents Rainy Day Fund was created through a $250,000 gift from an anonymous couple who are Parents Fund Committee members. The idea for the endowed fund arose from a fortuitous conversation between staff in the President’s Office and the parents, who expressed an interest in helping students facing financial hardship. The President’s Office and the Office of Student Financial Services identified two students in dire financial circumstances and shared their stories. “I was surprised by the severity of their situations,” recounted one of the parents. The couple made a gift to allow the students to continue their educations uninterrupted.

“This was last-chance support for two students who had nowhere else to turn,” said Sean Jenkins, senior assistant to the president. “If not for this generous support, I don’t think these students would be at UVA today—or maybe in college at all.” Jenkins later arranged for the parents to meet the students. They were struck by how aid in such situations impacts students’ lives. After the meeting, the parents made a larger gift to create an endowment to support similar needs in the future.

The Parents Rainy Day Fund will help UVA undergraduate students with unexpected hardships not otherwise met by University funding, including tuition shortfalls and expenses such as travel costs in a family emergency. The fund can also be used for needs that impact a student’s experience, such as a suit or dress for job interviews or extracurricular program fees.

Several generous donors have been inspired to help UVA’s next leaders, thinkers, and innovators who fall on unexpected financial hardship. Peter Kiernan (Darden ’79) endowed the UVA Compassion Fund with $200,000 for emergency support to students and families. Another anonymous donor recently established the Emergency Financial Assistance Fund with $250,000 to provide immediate tuition and housing support for students through need-based scholarships. Our commitment—cost should never get in the way of a Wahoo’s future.

Parents Rainy Day Fund: Jeff Boyd, UVA Parents Fund, 434-924-3010, jeffsboyd@virginia.edu
Emergency Financial Assistance Fund: Adrienne Gardner, UVA Scholarships, 434-924-6344, agardner@virginia.edu
UVA Compassion Fund: Sherry Werres, University Advancement, 434-924-3835, swerres@virginia.edu