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Emergency assistance

Overview & description

The School of Social Work’s Pay It Forward Emergency Fund was created to assist VCU School of Social Work students who encounter an unforeseen financial emergency that would otherwise prevent them from continuing their education at VCU. 

More specifically, this emergency fund provides our students with financial support when faced with an unexpected, unforeseen and unavoidable emergency expense that may be related to an accident, illness, death of a family member, fire damage or need for temporary housing. We acknowledge that students are often faced with life-altering circumstances that have the potential to derail successful progression. Our goal is to ensure our students have access to emergency resources during times of need – enabling them to stay in school and make progress toward their degree. 

Currently enrolled social work students in the B.S.W., M.S.W. and Ph.D. programs may apply for funds for emergent financial needs. This funding is not intended to reimburse expenses that have already been paid, or to replace or supplement existing financial aid.  

Emergency fund utilization 

  • Medications and other costs related to emergency medical care
  • Books and other essential academic expenses 
  • Safety needs (i.e., changing a lock) 
  • Replacement of essential personal belongings or emergency housing needs, due to fire, theft or natural disaster 
  • Travel costs related to a death or illness in the immediate family
  • Emergency childcare costs 

*This is not an exhaustive list, and other circumstances may apply. 

Expenses not covered 

  • Non-essential utilities (i.e. cable), household or furniture costs not related to damage or theft
  • Regularly anticipated fixed expenses (i.e., rent) 
  • Parking tickets 
  • Costs for entertainment, recreation, non-emergency travel or other non-essential expenses
  • Other anticipated expenses 

Eligibility requirements 

  • Applicants must have an immediate financial hardship resulting from an emergency, accident or other unexpected critical incident.
  • The expense must be unexpected, unforeseen and the urgent nature unavoidable.
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled students.
  • All other university-related resources, including emergency loans through Scholarships and Student Aid, must have been considered and been deemed insufficient, unavailable or not available in a timely manner 
  • Applicants must complete all questions in full and submit supporting documentation.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate their current financial need with supporting documentation.

Application process 

Students who need emergency financial assistance should submit an application and supporting documentation. The Pay it Forward Committee, made up of staff members from the Office of Student Success, reviews the submitted applications and determines the appropriate funding amount.  

Funds distributed do not generally exceed $500. The committee will review applications requesting in excess of $500 for unique and unusual circumstances of emergency financial need. Applicants may be required to meet with the associate dean for academic and student affairs or the director of advising and retention to discuss their application. If you are currently receiving financial aid, please be aware that receiving funding from the Emergency Fund may affect your future aid packages and funds received will be taxed as income. For questions related to how accepting emergency funding may impact your future financial aid, please contact your financial counselor, Nick Williams, at sfmcswwilder@vcu.edu or schedule an appointment with him. For information on the application please contact the Office of Student Success at sswadvising@vcu.edu or schedule an appointment with your student success advisor. 

Award procedures 

  • Students will be presented with a check in the award amount designated by the Pay it Forward Committee. 
  • Students must provide receipts and/or documentation reflecting payment toward identified emergency or reimbursement no later than 10 days after funds have been dispersed. 
  • While students do not need to repay this financial assistance, it may be considered as taxable income and subject to federal tax regulations.