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."
"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."
Earlier this year, the HBCU, which is part of the Virginia College Affordability Network, announced it was offering free tuition to hundreds of prospective students who live near the campus.
VSU officials released this list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who is eligible to have an outstanding balance paid off at the university?
A. All students enrolled during the COVID-19 national emergency (on or after March 13, 2020) are eligible for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) regardless of Title IV eligibility. You are eligible for the balance payoff if you have an outstanding balance owed to the University and you were enrolled during the following semesters; spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020, winter 2020 and spring 2021. This includes non-degree, noncredit, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, continuing education, undocumented/international students, and students who have graduated or withdrawn during those periods.
Q. What fees are eligible for the payoff?
A. Any outstanding balance that is on the University’s financial ledger (books) is eligible for the payoff. It is not limited to tuition, fees, room and board.
Q. If I fit the criteria, can I register for classes even if the balance is currently showing on my account?
A. Yes, students who have not registered due to concerns of unpaid balances are encouraged to register for fall 2021 semester.
Q. If I was a student that resided at the University Apartment at Ettrick (UAE), am I eligible to receive the funds to pay off a balance?
A. Yes. Students at the University Apartments at Ettrick (UAE) are eligible for the payoff of tuition and fees owed to the University and only the rent portion of their balance that is owed to UAE. Any other expenses such as utilities, parking, deposits, and miscellaneous expenses/amounts pertaining to the apartment complex do not qualify for the payoff. These expenses are not on the University financial ledger (books).
Q. What will I receive from the University to indicate that my balance has been paid off?
A. Students whose balances are paid off will receive an email indicating such, as well as a billing statement that reflects the current balance is zero. That should happen within the next seven days.
Q. Are students eligible to have their balances paid off for future terms and semesters?
A. No, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) are not available to pay off balances for future terms. You must ensure that all balances going forward are paid in full by personal funds, approved financial aid, third-party agencies or payment plan.
Q. If I have a transcript hold due to a balance owed, can I receive my transcript?
A. Yes, students enrolled at the University at any point on or after March 13, 2020 and had an unpaid balance can obtain an official transcript once the balance is cleared. Note: you must pay the $5 per transcript request.
Q. If I have an enrollment or registration hold due to a balance owed prior to March 13, 2020, can I register for the upcoming fall 2021 semester?
A. No, balances incurred prior to March 13, 2020 will not be cleared.
Q. If I am a faculty/staff member and also a VSU student with outstanding balance, am I eligible for the balance pay- off
A. Yes, the same applies as in question #1.
Q. Will the HEER funds pay off any loan debt that my family or I incurred for this impacted period?
A. No, HEER Funds will not pay off any personal loan debt incurred for the impacted period.
Q. Who should I contact if I have questions regarding the payoff of my balance?
A. Contact the Office of Student Accounts at (804) 524-5506, or email them at Bursar@vsu.edu.