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COVID-19 emergency student fund created

The Executive Committee of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) recently created the $500,000 COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund to provide short-term relief for undergraduate students at VFIC schools impacted financially by the pandemic. A leading proponent for private higher education in Virginia since 1952, the VFIC advances the distinctive values and strengths of its 15 independent member colleges and universities. This emergency fund reflects the foundation’s determination to help students mitigate any adverse financial consequences resulting from the ongoing health care crisis. “As events unfolded, our presidents canceled athletic events, classes, graduation ceremonies; they wisely closed their schools for the academic year,” Matt Shank, president of the VFIC, said. “Their quick action helped protect students. The quick response of our executive committee and staff has done the same.” The following schools make up the VFIC’s consortium: 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, and Washington and Lee University. These schools educate more than 29,000 students, 24,000 of whom are undergraduates. “The VFIC invited each of the 15 schools in the consortium to submit proposals citing the financial needs they see among their students,” Shank said. “Based on the strength of the requests, each school will receive the maximum $33,333 in funding to disburse among students by April 15.” The emergency assistance funding must be used to support undergraduate students impacted financially by the crisis. Needs included covering the cost of shelter for foster, homeless, and international students when schools closed urgently or facilitating transportation for students to return home. Funds will also help students pay for packaging and shipping personal belongings home, as well as providing storage. Schools must use their funding by August 15. They must also submit a report indicating how they allocated their funds and the impact the money had on students. “We believe that each day brings us closer to resolving the medical aspect of this crisis,” Shank said. “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.”