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Virginia College Access Resource Study

Congratulations to Alexis Goode for being Partnership for the Future's recipient of the College Access Scholarship in the amount of $1,029!  This scholarship made possible through the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, Virginia 529, Partnership for the Future, and the
Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium.

Pictured left to right: Paula Robinson (SCHEV), Charleita Richardson (Partnership for the Future), Alexis Goode (Scholarship Recipient), Kathleen Daly (MERC)


Download our free poster representing the need
for college access resources across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Read the research brief 
Virginia College Access Resource Study: Region One Report

Read the study from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia
The Landscape of Postsecondary Access Resources in Virginia


Want to learn more about college access in the Commonwealth? Listen to our podcast discussion!

The Virginia College Access Resource Study was a major research effort designed to learn about college access organizations throughout the state of Virginia. The study focused on college access services and resources for students in K-12 other than those offered by elementary and secondary schools, and it will update and build upon similar research conducted in 2008-2009. The research was commissioned by SCHEV and supported by Virginia529.

The goals of the study were to:

  • Carry out a census-style survey of identified provider organizations to understand the different types of services and resources they offer and the populations they serve;
  • Identify school divisions that show relatively high need for college access services and resources;
  • Consider the match between school divisions’ level of college access need and the types and extent of resources and services available;
  • Produce a comprehensive directory of Virginia college access provider organizations.

Results of the study will be useful at several different levels. First, the study provided data to help agencies make funding decisions and will help policymakers understand the challenges faced by college access providers. In addition, the results should be valuable as a planning and resource-allocation tool for access providers themselves; the study will help to identify service gaps as well opportunities for collaboration, efficiency, and/or resource-sharing. Finally, the study will serve as a guide to Virginia college access resources for students, families, and schools.

There were several components to the research. The first component, undertaken in fall 2015, consisted of a review of progress on six main recommendations to access providers that emerged from the 2009 research. A small qualitative study was conducted with seven experts embedded in the field of college access; the report is available here.

A further component of the study employed secondary data analysis to assess levels of need for college access resources within school divisions, on the basis of each division’s postsecondary enrollment and degree of economic disadvantage. One product of this part of the research was a listing of school divisions characterized by high need for college access resources, as well as a listing of divisions with slightly lower but still high levels of need (“recognized need”).

The third part of the study used an online survey to learn about the distribution of college access resources across school divisions. The first step was to identify as many college access providers as possible and to identify a knowledgeable contact at each who can respond to survey questions about the programs offered. Identified access providers are then invited to participate in the survey, to provide data on the nature of their work and activities, populations served, and the geographic reach of their services.

Finally, the survey was followed by a small number of qualitative interviews that will provide further insight into the nature of the work done by specific types of college access providers, and the challenges they confront.

Preliminary results were presented at the Virginia College Access Network (VCAN) conference in November-December, 2016, and the full report became available in fall, 2017. A final presentation of the results was made at the VCAN Conference in December, 2017.

Further information on the study can be found here.

Research Team

Amy Corning – Principal Investigator, MERC, VCU

Kathleen Daly – Graduate Research Assistant, VCU

Jesse Senechal – Research Advisor, MERC, VCU

Advisory Committee

Nathan Alleman – Associate Professor, Higher Education Studies, Baylor University

Paula Craw – Director, Outreach and Financial Literacy, Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC)

Paula Robinson – Assistant Director of Academic Affairs, State Council for Higher Education of Virginia

Sybil Halloran – Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, Virginia Commonwealth University

Bettsy Heggie – CEO, Great Aspirations Scholarship Program (GRASP)

Scott Kemp – Director, High School Career Coach Program, Virginia Community College System (VCCS)

Beth Miller – Director of Scholarships and Education Outreach, Virginia 529 College Savings Plan

Barry Simmons – President, Virginia College Access Network, President, Project Discovery of Virginia