Florida Colleges Are Stepping Up to Help Those Affected by the Hurricanes

A prospective student gets information at a booth at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo courtesy of St. Petersburg College
Photo courtesy of St. Petersburg College

It’s been an active hurricane season, to say the least.

First Harvey sat on Houston. Then Irma barreled through the Caribbean and made its way up Florida and into Georgia. And Maria followed, leaving Puerto Rico and other islands paralyzed.

Now, many of us are wondering how we can help — including Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott.

Earlier this week, Gov. Scott asked that all Florida colleges and universities offer in-state tuition to students from Puerto Rico.

“I am also asking all Florida state colleges and universities to offer in-state tuition to any student who was displaced from their home in Puerto Rico to make sure we are doing everything we can to help these families,” Scott said in a press release.

Florida’s colleges and universities are following suit, including the state’s (and country’s) largest university, University of Central Florida.

The Orlando Sentinel reported UCF is offering in-state tuition to its current 120 students from Puerto Rico. For context, the average out-of-state student at UCF pays $11,200 per semester whereas the average in-state students pays about $3,200 per semester.

Osceola County School Board Chairman Kelvin Soto suspects more displaced Puerto Rican residents will arrive in Central Florida over the next year — up to 70,000, he estimated — and this decision will help those students transferring or starting as freshmen as well.

Across the state in St. Petersburg, Florida, St. Petersburg College sent an email out to its students Thursday evening. It read, in part:

“With the recent devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, SPC President Tonjua Williams has decided that the college will be offering in-state tuition rates to displaced students from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Houston area. Additionally, the college’s $40 application fee will be waived for these students.”

If you’re a student who’s been affected by one of the recent hurricanes, be sure to contact your school’s admissions department to see what tuition, fee reductions and other relief are available to you.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.