Education

Puerto Rican students can find in-state tuition, free housing and food in South Florida

Residents of the beach town of Loiza, Puerto Rico, received heavy flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Maria. Refugees from the island can get reduced tuition at a number of Florida colleges.
Residents of the beach town of Loiza, Puerto Rico, received heavy flooding and wind damage from Hurricane Maria. Refugees from the island can get reduced tuition at a number of Florida colleges. cjuste@miamiherald.com

After Hurricane Maria devastated the island territory of Puerto Rico, Florida schools started offering all kinds of help — organizing donation drives, reducing tuition and even offering free room and board.

The storm knocked out power and water around the island, leaving millions in desperate conditions as aid slowly trickles in.

Read More: Aid flows to Puerto Rico but many still lack water and food

Gov. Rick Scott asked state universities and colleges to waive the out-of-state tuition fee for Puerto Rican students, and schools across the state have taken his recommendation, including Broward College and Miami Dade College.

At Florida International University, which also served as a hurricane shelter for special needs evacuees from Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys, that waiver has been extended to students from the U.S. Virgin Islands. That financial relief comes in the form of a fee refund this fall, but in the spring it will be automatically waived by the university.

Other schools took extra steps to aid hurricane victims.

St. Thomas University will pay for housing and a meal plan for the first 100 students from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to apply. The application process to the university has been shortened and expedited for students from the affected islands.

Other ways to help or be helped:

▪ Students who have a need not addressed by other available resources may write to FIUStrong@FIU.edu for guidance and assistance. Please include contact information and Panther ID.

▪ Donate to the FIU Foundation’s Disaster Recovery and Response Fund.

▪ Miami Dade College asks that students from Puerto Rico who were displaced by Hurricane Maria call 305-237-8888.

▪ Students interested in St. Thomas University’s program can call 305-628-6612 or go to www.stu.edu/support to apply.

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