With the Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Tech students bracing for bad economic news during 2009, the university has created an emergency loan fund for students and families buffeted by changing employment conditions.

“Virginia’s economy has traditionally not experienced the steep peaks and valleys in other states. However, this economic environment is different and we expect that students or their families may experience sudden and unexpected reduction in income due to a job loss or changing employment conditions. We believe that students would want to stay in school during this time while their financial support is evaluated,” said university president, Charles W. Steger.

Dubbed The Horizons Program, a pool of $500,000 will be made available to the university’s Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid immediately. The loan fund will be in addition to other financial aid resources already available such as the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, Funds for the Future, endowed need and merit based scholarships, or other state and federal programs.

It is designed to assist enrolled Virginia Tech undergraduate students and families experiencing a significant reduction in income due to family job loss or other similar significant reduction in family income.

If students find that their ability to support their education has dramatically changed, undergraduates will be able to utilize the Financial Aid Income Reconsideration Appeal process to request consideration for support from the Horizons Fund. The requirement of the Financial Aid Income Reconsideration Appeal process can be found online.

Students will submit information and evidence to revise their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to document the change in their economic situation. Departments that identify students with a dramatic change in their economic situation should refer those students to the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid. Students that encounter the significant loss of financial resources but have not previously completed a FAFSA will be allowed to submit a FAFSA in order to qualify for support under the Horizons Program.

Because of the severe nature of the financial hardships envisioned to qualify for the Horizons Program, Virginia Tech will work to provide longer term repayment terms with favorable interest rates in order to minimize the burden on the students.