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Vanderbilt University Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund

The status of the COVID-19 pandemic has improved substantially, with cases and hospitalizations continuing to decline in Nashville, Tennessee, and the United States. As a result of these improvements and with the planned ending of the COVID-19 national public health emergency on May 11, 2023, the Public Health Central Command Center (Command Center) will discontinue operations effective May 12, 2023. The Office of Health and Wellness will maintain a small, nimble public health monitoring function moving forward to support any university response to future public health threats. This website will continue to be updated with relevant guidance regarding COVID-19.

Vanderbilt will also discontinue the COVID-19 Leave Bank as well as the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. If you have any questions, please contact HR at


Vanderbilt University Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has been established to support faculty, staff and postdocs who are experiencing significant, temporary financial challenges as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As we enter Phase II+ of Return to Campus, the University recognizes that the current crisis is a hardship to everyone in our community.  The fund is in place to help those in need with costs that are occurring because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Vanderbilt University Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund has been created under an Internal Revenue Code (section 139).  Therefore, it is limited to the federally declared COVID-19 disaster and to employees only.  Eligible expenses include medical expenses, temporary housing needs attributable to COVID-19, and increased dependent care expenses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on usual dependent care arrangements due to school closings.

This fund does not replace the Faculty and Staff Hardship Fund which is also available to support faculty, staff and postdocs.  The employee-funded staff hardship fund is administered by the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide counseling and resources including financial support.  The Faculty and Staff Hardship Fund is available to all VU employees and VUMC employees regardless of income level.


  • Full-time benefits eligible VU-employed faculty (including Full Status, Partial Load faculty), full-time VU-employed staff who have completed 6 months of service, and VU-employed postdoctoral fellows are eligible to receive funds from the Vanderbilt University Employee COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund if their annual base salary is below $150,000.
    • VU-employed postdoctoral fellows who receive training grants - and move to trainee (non-employee) status - will also be eligible.
  • Students (graduate, professional and undergraduate) are not eligible under this employee relief fund plan but are eligible under the Student Hardship Fund.

Maximum Award:

  • Total assistance is limited to $500 per eligible employee during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic (federally declared disaster).
  • Eligible employees may submit more than one request for reimbursement.  But, the total reimbursement across applications cannot exceed $500.

Application Process:

  1. Before applying, please confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements above.
  2. Complete the online  COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund application
    • Alternatively, the form may be printed and completed manually. Once completed, scan the form and send by email to or mail the completed form to Emergency Relief Fund; C/O HR; PMB 407704; 2301 Vanderbilt Place; Nashville, TN; 37240-7704.
    • If needed, eligible individuals may phone 615-343-HRVU (4788) to request a copy of the form be mailed to them for completion.
  3. Human Resources will evaluate and process applications on a rolling basis.
  4. Human Resources will communicate a decision usually within two weeks of submission of your application. 
  5. If approved you will receive payment in your paycheck.  The payment will be made no later than the next pay period following the communication of a decision.  If that pay period is less than one week after the decision, the payment will be made by the following pay period.

*Emergency funding is not guaranteed to all who apply. Funding is awarded on a case-by-case basis and is contingent upon availability of funds in the COVID-19 Employee Emergency Relief Fund account. Requests may be fully funded up to a $500 limit, partially funded, or not funded at all. The information provided will be treated as confidential and shared only with individuals directly involved in administration, processing, and reporting. The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund will be available until the university suspends the fund or the federally declared COVID-19 disaster ends.


  1. An employee has the right to appeal a denial to the Benefits Standing Committee if they believe that their claim was wrongly denied.  (Committee membership is posted here)
  2. Appeals must be made within three days (72 hours) of receiving a denial.
  3. Appeals must be made by sending an email to The email must detail the basis for the appeal.  The appeal cannot be based on new or different expenses.
  4. Appeals will be decided within two weeks of the submission of a complete appeal request.

For additional questions please see the FAQ page.