Among millions of Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana and Mississippi, local college students are also feeling the jarring effects of the disaster. August's storm hit Tulane University, Loyola University - New Orleans, Dillard University, and the University of New Orleans hardest. Tulane and Loyola, in the mean time, have set up temporary offices in the city of Houston.
Tulane's and Loyola's websites state that the schools will be closed for the entirety of the fall 2005 semester. Once the city of New Orleans becomes habitable again, Dillard University plans on opening its doors and welcoming students back. As for the University of New Orleans, chancellor Timothy P. Ryan stated on the website that he estimates classes will begin sometime within the next month.
Damage to the campuses ranges from uprooted trees to roof and water damage. "The campus sustained some damage ... although nothing as bad as the stuff on TV," said Trevor Dowd, a Tulane '08 business major. A levee break by the campus of Dillard University caused an estimated five to eight feet of water to accumulate in and around academic buildings. Loyola University's emergency website reports that the recovery process has begun and there are "personnel onsite assessing the damage and making necessary emergency repairs."
State officials did not allow some students returning from summer vacation into the city, including Josh Berg, a junior majoring in history and technology at Tulane. "Some friends and I stayed at a hotel outside of the city for a few days, then I flew to American [University in Washington, D.C.], where I'm going to finish the semester," recalled Berg. "If I didn't, I would lose my tuition."
Support has poured in from other colleges and universities across the country. Georgetown University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Vanderbilt University are just a few institutions offering courses to displaced students at no charge to them. Other universities such as Duke and Franklin Pierce in New Hampshire are offering full tuition, room, and board to students from the universities' respective regions. Carnegie Mellon has already welcomed ten students and expects more in the upcoming weeks.
In order to simplify the transfer process, many colleges and universities have extended fall registration deadlines and, with the Department of Education, have agreed on a relaxation of certain regulations regarding financial aid for all students affected by Hurricane Katrina. Among these changes is the decision to grant students aid for which they qualified, even if aid had already been distributed. Also noteworthy is the Department's suggestion that displaced students be accepted as regular students instead of giving them "visiting student" status. By taking this step, colleges and universities can distribute financial aid efficiently.