RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia State University is providing financial relief to students who were enrolled at the school during semesters coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The university announced Friday it will clear all unpaid tuition and fee balances for students who attended during the spring, summer, fall and winter 2020 semesters and the 2021 spring semester. The balances cleared will be the balances after all federal, state and private awards are applied. The payoff applies only to balances currently owed to Virginia State University and not 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,” Donald Palm, Ph.D., Provost/Sr. Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs said in a statement. “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.”

Zion Dean is a rising sophomore at VSU and plays on the Trojan football squad. The Richmond native said he was several thousand dollars in the hole.

However thanks to this announcement, he won’t have to use the money he makes at Kings Dominion this summer toward tuition. Now Dean can just focus on school and football.

“I’m not going to lie, I did kind of tear up a little bit because it was the fact that I didn’t know how I was going to pay for it,” he said. “I know some people that was calling their parents, you know, calling the grandma, and stuff like that to really tell them that they don’t have to worry no more because their tuition is paid.“

Funding for the initiative will come from monies provided to the university from the CARES Act. The school says the balances cleared are not limited to tuition, fees, room and board, but any outstanding balance on the university’s books.

Students whose balances are paid off will receive an email and a billing statement reflecting a zero balance. Those notifications should be expected within seven days.

If you are a student or parent or guardian and you have questions about this initiative, contact the Office of Student Accounts at (804) 524-5506 or email