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Old Dominion University using COVID-19 funding to clear student debt

ODU said it was using money from the CARES Act to help clear unpaid balances from the spring 2021 semester.

NORFOLK, Va. — Old Dominion University said Thursday that it would use money from the federal CARES Act to help clear the debts of the schools students.

ODU planned to clear all unpaid balances from the spring 2021 semester with the CARES funding after all federal, state, and private resources had been applied to the balances.

The policy applies only to debt for the spring semester, and it doesn't cover loans owed to outside lenders.

Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Donald Stansberry said students with outstanding balances couldn't register for courses in the fall. Those who have debt also can't receive their diplomas once they complete their degrees. Helping eliminate the debt will address those issues for students.

“Old Dominion is committed to helping our students reach their academic potential,” Stansberry said. “At a time when many families are facing financial stress because of the pandemic, these CARES Act funds will help eliminate significant roadblocks so students can continue on their academic journeys.”

Stansberry added that the assistance aligns with the schools objective to "promote social mobility, benefiting not just our graduates but future generations."

ODU included these frequently asked questions about forgiving debt relief along with answers:

FAQs on Forgiving Debt during the Pandemic

Q. Who is eligible to have an outstanding balance forgiven by the University?

A. All students enrolled in the spring, 2021 semester regardless of Title IV eligibility. This includes non-degree, noncredit, undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, continuing education, and undocumented/international students.

Q. What fees are eligible for the balance reduction?

A. Any outstanding balance that is on your student account is eligible for the balance reduction.

Q. What will I receive from the University to indicate that my balance has been forgiven?

A.  Students whose balances are forgiven will receive an email indicating their remaining debt was forgiven with a remaining balance of “0” for the indicated term and can review their balance on their ODU student portal. The changes should be visible in the student’s account.

Q. Are students eligible to have their balances paid off for future terms and semesters?

A. No. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) are not available to pay off balances for future terms. You must ensure that all balances going forward are paid in full by personal funds, approved financial aid, third-party agencies or payment plan.

Q. If I have a hold on transcripts or diploma due to a balance owed, can I receive my official records?

A. Yes. Students enrolled at the University during spring 2021 can obtain official records unless they have a hold from any remaining balance for other terms. Any transcript fees and related charges still apply.

Q. If I have an enrollment or registration hold, can I register for the upcoming fall 2021 semester?

A. Yes. Students enrolled at the University in spring 2021 will have the hold lifted and will be able to register for fall classes, unless they have a balance due for semesters other than spring 2021. Note that other existing enrollment holds, such as the degree plan/advising hold, still must be managed before registering.

Q. Will the HEER Funds pay off any loan debt that my family or I incurred for this impacted period? 

A. No. HEERF Funds will not pay off any personal loan debt incurred for the impacted period.

Q. Whom should I contact if I have questions about my billing charges related to forgiveness of my debt?

A. Contact the Office of Student Accounts, email tuition@odu.edu.

Q. Whom should I contact if I have questions regarding financial aid?

A. Contact the Office of Student Financial Aid, email finaid@odu.edu.

Q. Whom should I contact if I have questions regarding living on campus?

A. Contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life, email housing@odu.edu.

Q. Whom should I contact if I have questions regarding advising and classes?

A. Contact Advising, email advisor@odu.edu

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