CMU may receive federal money for Katrina aid

Carnegie Mellon may receive $26,000 of federal funding if Congress passes an education bill regarding federal aid for students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

The Department of Education has proposed a bill now pending in Congress to allocate $227 million of federal money to aid students affected by Katrina. The money would also go to colleges that have taken in displaced students. According to [ITAL]The Chronicle of Higher Education[/ITAL], the features of the plan include providing payments of $1000 to colleges for every student they take in who have been displaced by Katrina.

According to [ITAL]The Chronicle[/ITAL], the funds would go toward helping colleges "meet the unexpected costs associated with educating" the transfer students.

If this bill passes, Carnegie Mellon will receive $26,000, or $1000 for each of the 26 displaced students from Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, and Loyola University. "Contributions [for accommodating the students] have exceeded that," said Director of Enrollment Services Linda Anderson.

According to Anderson, Carnegie Mellon is not charging the displaced students tuition. However, those living on campus are paying room and board.

Mark Carpenter, Press Secretary for Congressman Tim Murphy (R?Mt. Lebanon), said he expects this bill to pass, considering its status as a Department of Education proposal.

While under this bill, funds would not be allocated to the hurricane-battered colleges themselves to repair facilities or equipment, the bill would permit the institutions to retain student aid they have already received for the school year.

"It's the infrastructure in the city that's impacting them most. It's going to take time to assess the damage," said Anderson. "How do you expedite the whole process?"

As of now, one education bill (S. 1715) calls for Congress to distribute $3.7 billion to elementary and secondary schools and school districts in the Katrina-stricken areas, but it provides no further money for institutions of higher education.

Several initiatives are being implemented to aid individual students. President Bush signed into law last Wednesday two bills that will allow displaced students to keep their Pell Grants and all other federal financial aid they have received.

According to Anderson, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) is providing funds to displaced students. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to receive up to $2500 per student if they have transferred to a school in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Delaware. The grants are available to both students who lived in or attended postsecondary schools in the federally designated disaster areas.

Additionally, USA Funds permits postsecondary institutions hosting displaced students, as well as students whose permanent residence is in areas federally designated as disaster areas, to apply for grants to supplement financial aid packages.

"I think all we have done at Carnegie Mellon and other peer schools [to assist displaced students] is most generous," said Anderson.