Hmmm, this is 78$ a year, if it worked it would be worth it. How does it work exactly out of curiosity? If it's just connecting to this thing first, does it only use ports that are open and then redirects everything properly?
VPN, or Virtual Private Network basically uses the internet as a connection medium to a network. In effect, once you connect to a VPN it is as if you are physically connected to the network. Imagine your home network is an island, and your destination network (say work, 2nd home, etc) is another island, and in between is the raging white water river known as The Internet. If you could row your boat over to that second island you could use its facilities. To make your passage safe, you build a nice enclosed channel in the raging waters (encryption) and thus are able to use the previously unsafe water in a much safer way to access the other island!
Bad analogy aside, basically once you VPN into another network you can use its assets. Including, for example, its un-firewalled un-restricted internet access.
Does it require any maintenance after setup? I ask this because while I have no doubt that if it would work on her campus I could get it setup, I don't want to be fiddling with it frequently, and she's not going to be able to work with it.
Its IT stuff, so will likely need some sort of maintenance at some point :) Usually they are set-up-and-go affairs with little to no changes needed. But you never know with fickle PCs!
I've considered port forwarding but is that possible without access to the router being used? In her school's network she's on a subnet with no access to a router and the whole thing stops working if you enable any kind of NAT device. Basically, I can't set up a router in there at all, just a switch. I don't port forward much because luckily when I was in college I had no issues, was at a fairly small/lenient school.
You cant forward a port thats blocked, theyre mutually exclusive really. When you set up port forwarding you are telling the router or whatever "If you get signal coming in on this port, pass it to this machine please". If a port is blocked, the router will ignore any traffic coming in on that port. In effect, with it blocked, if you use port forwarding you're passing on nothing, because it will ignore anything coming in!
You should be aware though that VPN connections require their own ports, and it is entirely possible that these too are locked down. The very best thing you can do is chat with the IT admin and explain your goals. They may allow XIVs ports open. If not, wait a few days and enquire about VPN use (for some mystical work purpose of course) with another of the IT admin people and find out if that too is blocked.