VCAN Scholarship Program provides financial aid, support for local eligible recipients

The Virginia College Affordability Network (VCAN), provides access and opportunities to local students. Students must be Pell grant eligible and VCAN steps in to provide additional financial assistance. Originally students had to live within a 25 mile radius of the University to be eligible for the VCAN Scholarship but that has been increased to 45 miles. Norfolk State University also has a similar program and these boundaries relinquish competition for students between schools.

Dr. July Coleman is Director of VCAN and Strategic Initiatives and has been in the position since 2021. She credits President Abdullah with spearheading this grant for students in need and has made VCAN more than just a scholarship program.

“I pride myself on having built an environment and support system within VCAN through how I envision VCAN to be. I didn’t want the scholars to just come in, receive an award, and “have a great day”. You can’t lose an opportunity to provide a student with opportunities beyond the first year. To retain them for their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, its not just about providing them with a scholarship but its also about providing them with a face and a space where they can come, ask questions, and be supported.”

Dr. Coleman and the VCAN program have connections that span the campus.

“We provide a sense of community. A home within a home. We are making sure that Virginia State and the VCAN program is a one-stop, full functioning, support system as possible,” Dr. Coleman said.

VCAN supports over 500 VSU scholars, all from within the Greater Richmond-Petersburg, Tri-Cities area, and 275 recruits receive financial awards yearly. As long as you meet the 2.5 cumulative GPA and any other requirements, the funding continues as you matriculate through senior year. Scholars will receive a one semester warning status if their GPA falls below 2.5 where they will be given an opportunity to meet the requirement.

The VCAN Grant is state funded and for funding to continue the program must show positive results. Currently, the programs is succeeding at its aims. In 2021, Dr. Coleman was on the phone asking students to come to VSU and letting them know that they are eligible for the VCAN scholarship. Today, there is a waiting list to get into the VCAN scholarship program.

“We are still in the building stages at VCAN, and we still have a good bit to show of what we are doing…. we have a wonderful social media manager. She pushes everything out on our VCAN page.” Dr. Coleman said.

“If it wasn’t for VCAN I wouldn’t be here,” sophomore biology major Julia Bucciarelli said,

Bucciarelli most likely isn’t the only Trojan that feels that way. 275 of the record breaking 2022-23 freshman class were VCAN scholars.

“We are growing. We are making a huge mark on campus, doing a kind and loving takeover of this campus,” Dr. Coleman said. “I’m excited about what this program has started to be, what its becoming, and students are now finding their own vision of how they would like to participate in this program.”

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