By Zach Armstrong

PETERSBURG, Va -- Virginia State University announced that around 300 students of Chesterfield, Prince George, Henrico and Dinwiddie counties along with the cities of Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Petersburg and Richmond who qualify for the pell grant may be eligible for free tuition annually.

Priority would be given to the students of the Matoaca, Petersburg, and Colonial Heights high schools. Students must be Pell Grant eligible, meet admission requirements and live within a 25-mile radius of the college in order to qualify.

The university said this initiative is part of the Virginia College Affordability Network and would provide access for an estimated 300 Pell-eligible students annually who live within proximity of the campus in Ettrick, Va.

“At Virginia State University, we continue to embrace our role as Virginia’s Opportunity University,” VSU President, Makola M. Abdullah said in a press release. “This initiative directly aligns with our Strategic Plan as it allows us to directly impact students who dream of access to a quality four-year university, yet lack financial resources to attend.”

The VCAN is an initiative funded by Virginia intending to increase access to undergraduate education for students with high financial need.

 Gov. Ralph Northam allocated $3.8 million for VSU including funding VSU’s students in the Virginia College Affordability Network for two years. The network is also intended to support Norfolk State University, and the governor has allocated $4.9 million toward the network in 2022.