ETTRICK, Va. -- Virginia State University (VSU) will pay off all outstanding tuition and fees owed by students enrolled during the COVID-19 pandemic by using CARES Act funds, school officials announced Friday.
As a result, the historically Black university will waive the account balances for students who attended in the spring, summer, fall, winter 2020 and spring 2021 semesters, officials said.
The balances will be cleared after all federal, state and private awards are applied to students' accounts, officials noted.
However, officials also clarified that the payoff applies only to balances currently owed to VSU and not to "loans owed to outside entities."
VSU graduate Breyawna Mason said she thinks paying down the debt "is a great way to give back to the students that struggled during the pandemic."
"We care about our students and their academic success and want to provide them the privilege of moving forward with a zero balance," Provost/Sr. Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Donald Palm, Ph.D. said. "We believe that relieving them from these balances will provide much-needed relief that will allow our scholars to focus more intently on their academics and degree completion.”
University officials called the CARES Act funding "critical to helping students continue to pursue their academic dreams" as COVID-19 has "severely affected financial resources for thousands of families nationwide."
Mason hopes other universities will do the same.
“Trying to find a good-paying job, especially after you graduate... is already a struggle," Mason said. "So now COVID cases are going back up, we don’t know what’s going to happen. So a lot of stuff is still in the air, so I think Virginia State doing that was a big weight off our shoulders. So I think a lot of schools need to hop on that. We need the help."