The VSUAA/Alfred W. Harris Tuition Assistance Fund was established in 2008 with a $10,000 gift to the Virginia State University Foundation by the Virginia State University Alumni Association. Awards from this fund are used to immediately help offset tuition cost for the 95% of students who require financial aid to attend our beloved alma mater. Named in honor of VSU's Founder, Delegate Alfred W. Harris, this fund celebrates his legacy and continues his vision of a school "where all....may go and drink from the fountain of knowledge until their ambition is satisfied."
Awards from the Fund are based on the following conditions:
Awards shall be made in the name of Alfred W. Harris/VSUAA Tuition Assistance Fund;
Awards are provided for tuition, room and board, comprehensive and miscellaneous fees;
Recipient(s) shall have a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0 on a 4.00 collegiate scale;
Recipient(s) shall be selected by the Virginia State University Foundation's Scholarship Committee and will be based
on financial need; and the
Awards are renewable as long as the recipient maintains the specified 2.0 GPA.
Learn More About Delegate Alfred William Harris
Alfred William Harris was born free in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1854, the son of Henry Harris. He was a member of the very large family of Harrises in the counties of Fairfax and Prince William. They were free in these counties as early as the year 1776.
Harris attended the public schools in Alexandria, Virginia. He studied law privately in the office of an African American lawyer, George W. Mitchell, and finally enrolled in the law department of Howard University, where he graduated in 1881. He moved to Petersburg, Virginia in the 1870's. Here he became involved in local politics and began his practice of law.
He was a very active in a number civic and social organizations in and around the city of Petersburg. In 1881, Harris was elected to the House of Delegates representing Dinwiddie County. He served in the house until 1888. In 1882, Delegate Harris persuaded the Virginia General Assembly to establish an institution of higher learning for Virginia's African-Americans.
Harris envisioned a school with strong black leadership that would give newly-freed slaves and their children the knowledge to become full participants in democracy. Virginia State University was founded on March 6, 1882, when the legislature passed a bill to charter the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. Upon its passage in the General Assembly, 33 acres of the former Fleets Plantation in Ettrick became chartered as the Virginia State Normal and Collegiate Institute. However, a hostile lawsuit delayed opening day for nineteen months, until October 1, 1883. Delegate Harris served as the first secretary of the board of visitors for Virginia State University and was later Principal of the John A. Dix School in Dinwidde.