Nearly 10 months after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast many displaced students still have outstanding balances with the universities they attended after the hurricane.
Displaced students were under the impression that attending universities that announced they would accept students who attended universities in New Orleans would be free of charge. Many universities announced that all the students would not have to worry about any fees at the time of registration.
Unfortunately, that was not the case for many Dillard students who currently have balances with the universities that they attended after the storm. Many have returned to their home institutions without a transcript or any record that they were in attendance at a school and it will remain the case until fees are paid.
Louisiana State University had 30,256 students prior to Hurricane Katrina. After the hurricane two thousand displaced students from New Orleans institutions enrolled.
Mary Parker, LSU director of student aid, said that the institution had to admit and accommodate many students at the last minute. “I worked with many students that transferred to LSU after the hurricane with their financial status,” said Parker. “There has been funds allocated by the state for the displaced students but it does not cover every students balance.”
Jessica Thomas, junior sociology/social work major from Memphis, Tenn., said that she enrolled at the university, officials informed her that she would not have to pay for anything. She added that when she left, she found out that she had a three thousand dollar balance and had no choice but to pay it. No money, no transcript.
Tyesha Alexander, sophomore nursing major from New Orleans, said that she went to University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “Dillard University tuition is way higher than UL’s.” “I didn’t understand why I had balance at ULL if I didn’t have a balance at Dillard before hurricane,” said Alexander.
Sherine Tatum, sophomore biology/ pre-med major from Forth Worth, Texas, chose to remain in her home state of Texas after Katrina. “I am now attending Texas Christian University because if I would have not completed the year at the university I would have had a balance,” said Tatum She has planned to return to Dillard in the fall. She added staying in Texas was for the best this year. “I lost everything in Williams Hall so this opportunity gave me the chance to replenish some of her necessities.”
Brandon Byes, junior education major from New Orleans, went to Nicholls State in Thibadoux, La. “I thought the host universities were going to help the displaced students from New Orleans but they did not,” said Byes. “I could not wait to get back to Dillard University, my home.” He is still trying to address his financial burdens of Nicholls State.
The students said that they will not forfeit the semester spent at the host institutions. They will pay the host institutions before the fall semester.
Financial aid does not keep record of how many students are in this situation the only why they know is the students seek financial advice.
Joyce Lyons, financial aid counselor, stated that Dillard students who owe the host institutions can come in the World Trade Center on the 21st floor and consult with a financial advisor. The student will need to bring a copy of their balance worksheet from the host institution. Lyons said, students in these situations usually take out loans to pay back the money owed to the host university. Students can also go online to www.p.ed.gov and then click student if there is a balance at the temporary institution.