Foundation creates COVID-19 relief fund for Va. college students

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 4:30 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges has created a $500,000 COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund to help college students at VFIC schools to help those impacted by the pandemic.

There are 15 independent member colleges and universities across the state where the money can be used to help students mitigate any financial consequences resulting from the ongoing health care crisis.

“As events unfolded, our presidents cancelled athletic events, classes, graduation ceremonies; they wisely closed their schools for the academic year,” says Matt Shank, president of the VFIC. “Their quick action helped protect students. The quick response of our executive committee and staff has done the same.”

The following are part of the VFIC’s association:

  • Bridgewater College
  • Emory & Henry College
  • Hampden-Sydney College
  • Hollins University
  • Mary Baldwin University
  • Marymount University
  • Randolph College
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • Roanoke College
  • Shenandoah University
  • Sweet Briar College
  • University of Lynchburg
  • University of Richmond
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington and Lee University

“The VFIC invited each of the fifteen schools in the consortium to submit proposals citing the financial needs they see among their students,” says Shank. “Based on strength of the requests, each school will receive the maximum $33,333 in funding to disburse among students by April 15.”

The money must be used to support students impacted by the pandemic. Needs include the cost of shelter for foster, homeless and international students, or for transportation for students to return home. The funds will also help pay for packaging and shipping personal belongings home, along with storage.

Schools must use the funding by Aug. 15 and submit a report on how the money was used and how it benefitted students.

“We believe that each day brings us closer to resolving the medical aspect of this crisis,” says Shank. “But the financial impact is another matter. Unexpected expenses, not to mention unanticipated unemployment, can have a long-term financial effect on students and their families, as well as the communities they call home. The VFIC intends to stand in the gap. Through this funding, we can create some financial stability in the lives of our students and encourage them to look to the future with hope.”

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