Paying for college: How can I get help?

Students have many opportunities to apply for and receive financial assistance toward tuition and fees. Eligibility varies — but the only way to know if you are eligible is to follow these important steps.

Apply for financial aid.

For the 2020-21 academic year, go to the VCU Financial Aid website and review the application process. There you will find information on:

  • Eligibility for financial aid.
  • The Free Application for Federal Student Aid — The FAFSA is the key; do this as soon as you can.
  • VCU's Title IV school code is 003735.
  • March 1 is the FAFS priority filing date for VCU.
  • It’s not too late to apply for aid for 2019-20.
  • Step-by-step financial aid process — You don’t need to have received an admission decision before filing for financial aid.

COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funding

The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has made funding available to colleges and universities to assist eligible students who have been impacted by COVID-19. This funding allows schools to consider students for federal emergency aid grants for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to coronavirus (including eligible expenses under a student's cost of attendance, such as food, housing, course materials, technology, health care and child care).

VCU has established a COVID-19 emergency relief funding website, which outlines the qualifications to be considered for federal or institutional relief funds. The value of the grants may vary up to $2,000 based on your unique circumstances. Students who apply for emergency relief funding should expect to hear from the SFMC within 10 business days of submitting an application.

Students impacted by COVID-19, but not eligible for federal funds, may be eligible for emergency funding that is being offered through Student Affairs.

Consider the types of aid that may be available.

Financial aid is more than student loans:

  • Employment – The Federal Work-Study Program is subsidized by the federal government and allows certain students to earn wages in special student employment positions. Students who demonstrate financial need and receive this award may work and earn up to the full amount of the award. Earnings in this program are intended to assist students in defraying educational and living expenses while attending VCU. Enrolled degree- and certificate-seeking undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to receive consideration for FWS. Students must demonstrate sufficient financial need to receive FWS, as determined from information reported on the FAFSA.
  • Grants – A grant is financial aid that is based on financial need and doesn’t require repayment. VCU participates in the following federal and state grant programs:
    • Federal Pell Grant
    • Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant
    • Virginia Student Financial Assistance Program, comprised of two subprograms: Commonwealth Award and Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program
  • Loans – Both federal and private loans are used to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants and work-study, and they must be repaid. Among the loans available are:
    • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (for students)
    • Federal Direct PLUS Loans (for parents of dependent students)
    • Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans
    • Alternative loans
  • Veteran’s benefits – These are benefits for those who’ve served in the U.S. military, reserves or National Guard (spouses and dependents may be eligible).
    • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty (Chapter 30)
    • Post 9/11 GI Bill – Active Duty (Chapter 33)
    • Yellow Ribbon Program
    • Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserves (Chapter 1606)
    • Survivors and Dependents Educational Assistance Program (DEA, Chapter 35)
    • Veterans Education Assistance Program (VEAP, Chapter 32)
    • Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program
    • Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab, Chapter 31)

Research and apply for scholarships.

A scholarship is a form of gift aid from families, clubs, corporations, foundations, alumni and other organizations to students. Like grants, scholarships do not have to be repaid. Criteria for receiving scholarships and deadlines for applications vary.

  • Start your research by visiting the VCU Financial Aid website for a general overview of VCU scholarships.
  • Call the dean’s office of your school, college or department and ask for information on available scholarships.
  • Talk with parents, family members, friends, employers, clubs, etc., regarding the availability of scholarships within your community.

Understand your tuition and fees payment options.

VCU offers a university-administered Installment Payment Plan during the fall and spring semesters. This plan assists students in meeting the cost of higher education by offering a convenient payment option. The IPP distributes the cost of the tuition, fees, housing and dining charges for a semester into four equal installments.Please visit the Student Accounting website for additional information about our payment plan and the enrollment process, as well as payment methods and instructions.

Contact your financial counselor.

Students at VCU are assigned to a financial counselor based on an alphabetical division by last name. To find your counselor visit the VCU Student Financial Management website.

Questions about your financial aid or student account?

Get live help from our student services consultants 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Live chat and review our knowledge base at or call 1 (844) 348-5073 to speak with a consultant.

24/7 help

Get live help from our student services consultants 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Live chat and review our knowledge base at or call 1 (844) 348-5073 to speak with a consultant.