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Colleges work to place Katrina students

September 14, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Enroll first, ask questions later.

That has been the protocol for admitting college students displaced by Hurricane Katrina at schools in Maryland, said Helen Szablya, spokesperson for the Maryland Higher Education Committee.

Tri-State schools are making accommodations for the estimated 75,000 to 100,000 college students displaced by the storm, though only four students have enrolled locally.

The state has not set any enrollment guidelines for four-year schools and has advised community colleges to refer their questions to the MHEC, Szablya said. The state is not requiring any school to waive tuition or other fees, she said.

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"Each one of the schools has to make decisions based on their fiscal realities," she said.

Schools are relying on students to provide academic and medical records until administrators are able to retrieve them from their previous schools, school administrators said.

Hagerstown Community College received two students from the Gulf Coast region, HCC spokeswoman Beth Stull said.

Stull said there were no tuition waivers for students who were able to pay. HCC will determine if students unable to pay are eligible for financial aid and scholarships before considering a tuition waiver.

Hood College did not waive tuition for the two Tulane University students it received, spokesman Dave Diehl said. He said they are working with the school's financial advisers to figure out how the students pay tuition.

"The first priority was to get them enrolled," Diehl said. "Every day that passed mattered because they were falling behind."

Because the school did not have any campus housing available, the students are being treated as "commuters," Diehl said. The school can accommodate up to 10 displaced students, he said.

Frederick Community College did not receive any displaced students, spokesman Michael Pritchard said. He said the college did not plan on waiving tuition for displaced students and was waiting to hear back from the state higher education commission for guidance.

State officials in Pennsylvania have asked all 14 of the state's public colleges and universities to offer free fall tuition to state residents who attended schools in the Gulf Coast region, said Shippensburg (Pa.) University spokesman Peter Gigliotti.

Shippensburg did not have any students, though they had received many inquiries Gigliotti sad.

Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., had received seven inquiries, but none of those students decided to enroll, said Linda Brittain, associate dean of enrollment. There are no displaced students at Wilson, Brittain said.

School officials from Shepherd University in West Virginia said the school had not received any inquiries from displaced students, but it planned to offer those students in-state tuition rates.

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