Virginia State University has joined Virginia Union University and several other HBCUs that have agreed to waive student fees for students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full story on where the funds came from and which fees will be cleared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch story by Colbi Edmonds below.

Credit: Dean Hoffmeyer

Virginia State University announced Friday that it will use CARES Act funding to clear unpaid tuition and fee balances for students who were enrolled during the COVID-19 impact period.

Students who took classes during spring, summer, fall and winter 2020 as well as spring 2021 are eligible to have their outstanding balances paid off.

The university will clear the balances after federal, state and private awards are applied.

“We care about our students and their academic success and want to provide them the privilege of moving forward with a zero balance,” said Donald Palm, provost and senior vice president of academic and student affairs, in a news release. “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.”

The payoff will apply only to VSU balances, not loans from outside entities, for tuition since March 13, 2020.

VSU joins other universities in Virginia that have announced balance forgiveness with the help of the CARES Act.

Virginia Union University announced June 8 that it was awarding more than $6.35 million to eliminate debt for 1,344 students — 1,192 undergraduates and 152 graduate students.

The Class of 2021 was awarded $1.2 million; other underclassman students were awarded $4.3 million; and graduate students were awarded $778,543.

All graduating seniors finished with zero university debt, and continuing students had their balances fully paid.

The CARES Act money was awarded as financial relief for students to pay off debt at the end of the academic year. In total, 559 students were granted more than $3.1 million. The remaining $3.25 million was awarded by university scholarships and workforce development funds, which allowed students the opportunity to work on and off campus.

“VUU is committed to helping students ease the worry of financial debt due to education loans,” said Hakim Lucas, president and CEO of VUU, in a news release. “These funds helped to reduce the cost of their education, which results in fewer federal and consumer loan applications and less debt.”