A year ago, the University of Virginia joined the growing list of selective institutions altering their financial aid policies to make them friendlier to students from low-income families. Now it has decided that it needs to do even more, and do it sooner, than originally planned.
For years, education experts have been saying that community colleges offer an underutilized path in higher education. States spend less money per student there and tuition is much lower. The institutions' emphasis on teaching and on recruiting low-income and minority students means that they reach and graduate many students overlooked by flagships or who can't afford them. While many efforts in recent years have tried to ease transfer from two- to four-year institutions, elite colleges haven't always been part of the equation.