In our book, A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs (2014), the Echols Scholars program at the University of Virginia was one of seven programs to receive the highest overall rating–five “mortarboards.” (Please see our Methodology page for more information about these two categories.)
The Jefferson Scholars program at UVA was not rated as an honors program because it is primarily a generous financial support program coupled with enrichment activities for only about 30 students each year. The good news is that you can be both an Echols Scholar, which allows you almost total freedom in course selection along with housing and priority registration benefits, and a Jefferson Scholar, fortunate enough to receive the outstanding financial benefits and enrichment features of that program.
Admission to each program is, however, separate, so some students invited to be Echols Scholars do not receive Jefferson Scholarships, and some Jefferson Scholars are not in the Echols Program.
Admission to either program is highly selective, pretty much on a par with top Ivy standards. UVA attracts quite a few students who have also been accepted to the most elite private institutions. But here is what you receive in the way of support as a Jefferson Scholar:
“Intended to cover the entire cost of attendance for four years at the University of Virginia, the Jefferson Scholars’ stipend includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, and personal expenses. In 2012-13, Jefferson Scholars from the Commonwealth of Virginia will receive over $25,000 each year, and out-of-state or international Jefferson Scholars will receive an annual stipend of over $50,000. In addition to the financial component of the Scholarship is an extensive enrichment program which aims to support and nurture these students throughout their four years at U.Va. Also an important part of the program is the community that develops between Scholars, Graduate Fellows, staff, and alumni.”
In a separate post and in our book we have estimated the admission requirements for Echols; the stats below are from the Jefferson Scholars site, and the admission requirements appear to be about the same as our estimates for Echols Scholars. Class of 2016:
17 states represented, plus the UK
2260 average SAT
23 scholars had a perfect score of 800 on at least one section of the SAT
88 scores of 5 on AP exams
16 varsity athletes