Vanderbilt announces room and board refunds; university invests $1 million in new Student Hardship Fund

The email sent to Vanderbilt undergraduate students also said that the university would continue to pay staff as normal through the end of the semester.

Humans+have+reacquired+lost+genetic+variations+from+Neanderthals.+%28Photo+%2F+Claire+Barnett%29

Humans have reacquired lost genetic variations from Neanderthals. (Photo / Claire Barnett)

After a VSG resolution and petition that received over 700 signatures, Vanderbilt has promised to provide financial compensation following the early end to most students’ semesters on campus.

Interim Chancellor Susan R. Wente sent an email to the Vanderbilt community today announcing that students who left campus on or before March 22 would be receiving an adjustment for their housing and dining costs. Wente also announced the establishment of a $1 million Student Hardship Fund for which students can apply online.

Refunds for room and board charges will be provided to students in the form of credit to students’ account portals. The credits will be calculated and applied automatically on or before April 15, 2020 and will be applied to outstanding balances first. If the adjustments result in money left on the student’s account, the money will be paid to the student per the typical refund policy, via mailed check or direct deposit if the student already has direct deposit set up

Tuition rate will not be discounted or adjusted, according to the FAQ posted on the Vanderbilt coronavirus website.

“While we acknowledge that all classroom coursework is now being taught via various alternative learning methods, tuition and fees will remain the same for the Spring 2020 term,” the website reads. All questions about the refund should be directed to the Office of Student Accounts, the email said.

The Student Hardship Fund is eligible for undergraduate, graduate and professional students with “demonstrated need,” according to the FAQ. The fund is intended to alleviate “financial burdens associated with the unexpected and abrupt changes to their Vanderbilt experience necessitated by this global public health crisis.”

The application opens today, and there is a $500 cap on received funds. Expenses that will be considered for coverage by the hardship fund include extraordinary moving expenses, food expenses, unforeseen transportation costs, WiFi costs and other costs that come with attending virtual classes.

We are committed to ensuring rapid turnaround of all approved requests,” the site said. Students should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships with questions about what other assistance for which they may qualify.

For students on need-based financial aid, the FAQ said that “the adjustment for which you are eligible is dependent upon the percentage of funds you received as compared to your total cost of attendance for the spring.”

VSG passed a resolution on March 18 calling for Vanderbilt to reimburse housing and dining costs. Resolution sponsors were grateful to Chancellor Wente and the COVID-19 task force for their swift action.

“We were especially excited to hear about the hardship fund, which will cover OV (Opportunity Vanderbilt) students who have demonstrated need but may otherwise not receive a refund,” Deputy Speaker Robert Lusk said in an email to the Hustler.

VSG is also actively assessing ways that it can support the hardship fund, Lusk said

“I am so happy that the Student Hardship fund recognizes the burden of students facing significant financial challenges, and that the administration is prioritizing helping students expeditiously,” Peabody senator Kate Petosa said in an email to the Hustler.

Wente also announced in the email that Vanderbilt would preserve the compensation and benefits of housing, dining and other staff “as though the school year proceeded as normal.”