Free tuition given to displaced students

Rachel Abbey

Students enrolled in universities in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, such as Tulane University, found themselves without a school to attend this semester.

Across the country, universities took in these displaced students who wanted to continue their education despite a temporary change in location.

The Ohio Board of Regents encouraged institutions across the state to assist these students in any way they could, said David Creamer, vice president for administration. The students from schools affected by Katrina have no access to their records, so they have no way of transferring financial aid or class credits to other universities.

Kent State took in 15 of these students displaced by the effects of Hurricane Katrina and waived their tuition and fees, said Charles Rickard, associate vice president for Enrollment Services.

While bills in the Senate will most likely provide relief to institutions damaged by the hurricane, so far, no such bill has been proposed to give aid to institutions temporarily serving students, said Constance Hawke, director of Federal Relations and associate university counsel. The bills do propose support for the affected students.

Hawke said the federal government rarely aids universities.

“Generally, higher ed institutions rely primarily on state support,” she said.

Consequently, universities have to find other ways to support these additional students. Rickard said Kent State took in as many students as possible. After the third week of classes, they had no more requests to attend Kent State, and it was time to provide for the accepted students.

“We could do this without any new cost to the university,” Creamer said.

The students were asked to enroll in courses with open seats, and no additional courses were created, he said. However, they were asked to pay for room and board if they weren’t living off campus.

Four of the students were Ohio residents, Rickard said, and 11 were out-of-state students from places such as Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“They’re truly students from those hurricane-stricken states,” he said.

It is difficult to know how many of these students chose to live on campus, said T. J. Logan, assistant director of Residence Services. Logan said he knew five or six of the displaced students had applied for housing, but there could be more.

Students can apply for housing without telling the university the circumstances behind it, going through the same process as any other student.

Contact administration reporter Rachel Abbey at [email protected].