Virginia Tech students will receive a nearly $100 rebate this semester after Blacksburg directed federal coronavirus relief funds to the university.
The town of Blacksburg will credit the university $4 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act earmarked for public transit, Tech announced Monday.
“When we learned that there would be a surplus in Blacksburg Transit’s budget due to the CARES Act funding, we felt that it was appropriate to provide this credit back to the university, which has been the town’s long-time partner in providing Blacksburg Transit service,” Town Manager Marc Verniel said in a Tech news release.
Tech said it intends to refund full-time students in Blacksburg the spring semester’s $96 transportation service fee, which the university uses to cover bus service and other campus transportation.
“The town did not have to do what it did, but in doing so, demonstrated its support and partnership with the university and provided us with an opportunity to help our students directly,” Dwayne Pinkney, Tech’s chief business officer, said in the news release. “We believe that passing this relief to our students would be the right thing to do.”
Roughly 35,000 undergraduates and graduate students in Blacksburg will be eligible for the rebate, Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski said in an email. Part-time students will be credited for the prorated transportation fee that they pay.
Any remaining funds from the $4 million credit would likely be used to offset additional university payments to public transit.
To finalize the rebate, the university needs approval from its board of visitors, which has almost always voted in favor of Tech proposals.
Tech said the board would take up the issue no later than its next scheduled meeting, which runs March 21-22.
Last year, students did not receive any transportation fee refunds, even though most of them left campus in March during the spring semester.
“Virginia Tech has not refunded mandatory fees during the pandemic,” Owczarski said in an email. “Such fees cover the estimated cost of delivering a bundled set of services, without regard to individual usage of each service, to create the maximum community benefit at the lowest cost and to ensure continuity of critical services.”
Blacksburg received $6.1 million in CARES Act funding for public transportation, Verniel said in an email. He said the revenue impact for Blacksburg Transit was minimal last year, because most of its budget is funded by state and federal grants.
Verniel said that the town council was made aware last week of the arrangement, but that the town’s credit to the university does not require council approval.