Amid over-enrollment concerns, Virginia Tech offers incoming freshmen options--and money--to delay their arrival on campus

Amid over-enrollment concerns, Virginia Tech offers incoming freshmen options--and money--to delay their arrival on campus
(Source: Virginia Tech)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- With more than 8,000 new students intending to arrive for the upcoming fall semester, Virginia Tech is offering some of them an alternative path to Blacksburg.

The university recently sent a letter to 1,559 accepted students, inviting them to exercise one of three options to begin their enrollment in a non-traditional manner.

The selected students indicated majors that had higher than anticipated acceptance rates with proximity to Virginia community colleges, according to the university.

Those students were offered the following optional enrollment plans:

  • Option 1: Guaranteed Admissions Program GAP2020 - Take a gap year, with guaranteed admission to Virginia Tech in fall 2020. Students who select this option would receive an additional $1,000 scholarship renewable for up to four years.
  • Option 2: Guaranteed Admission Transfer Program GRANT2020 - Wait a year to enroll at Virginia Tech while taking classes at your community college. Students would receive a grant equal to the costs they pay for tuition and fees for attendance at a Virginia Community College System (V.C.C.S.) institution during the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • Option 3: Experience 2020 - Summer start and summer finisher tuition-free, with fall or spring enrollment on campus. Students would take six credits, tuition-free, this summer before enrolling full-time in either the fall or spring semester. They then would complete their freshman year in the summer of 2020 with an additional nine tuition-free credits. An additional grant of up to $2,000 will be available to support internships, co-ops or other approved experiential learning opportunities during their time at Virginia Tech.

The letter reads: If you decline all options, it will not affect your current status as an accepted student to Virginia Tech and we'll look forward to welcoming you this fall.

The alternative enrollment options were offered to students in the following majors:

  • General engineering (or undecided engineering)
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Aerospace engineering
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Biology
  • University studies (undeclared)
  • Exploring technologies (part of university studies)

According to a Q&A with vice provost for enrollment management Luisa Havens Gerardo posted on Virginia Tech's website, the university's original goal was to have 6,600 first-year students this fall.

After accounting for "melt," or the number of enrolled students that decide not to attend, Virginia Tech expects the incoming class to total around 7,500.

Gerardo credited the increase to an "Innovation Campus bump," a reference to VT's new campus in Northern Virginia that played a role in Amazon's decision to come to the Commonwealth.

“Every day, we thought, ‘This is the day it’ll die down,’ with the trend lines slowing down, but they never slowed,” Gerardo said in the Q&A. “Almost 50% of the current overage in accepted offers is in the College of Engineering, and close to 50% of the overage in the college is concentrated in two majors: computer science and computer engineering.”

Virginia Tech also saw a 60% increase in international student acceptances from the target, including a tripling of acceptances from India, Gerardo said.

Besides the alternative enrollment options, Tech is also preparing for the incoming class by allowing first-year students to live off-campus for the first time.

This is a developing story.

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