CSU system to take in Hurricane Katrina victims

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The California State University system will take in temporarily enrolled students from Gulf Coast colleges affected by Hurricane Katrina, according to officials.

The CSU began the process in the middle of last week.

“Individual campuses have been dealing with calls from students as early as last Wednesday,” said Jim Blackburn, associate director for enrollment management services at the CSU.

The list of students will include Californians who were going to attend universities in the Gulf Coast area, students enrolled in the hurricane-affected areas, and those who can show admission to any college in the area that was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Admission priority will be given first to California residents who had previously planned to institutions in the Gulf Coast region of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

“CSUN has (received) around 35 calls from students who are interested,” said Robin Ferguson, administrative assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs. Ferguson said she has talked to a handful of students, including some from Louisiana and some from Los Angeles who were unable to attend universities in Louisiana.

Ferguson said she identifies the needs of the students and directs them accordingly to Financial Aid, Student Housing or University Counseling Services. She said CSUN is just starting to get calls from students who are completely homeless due to the hurricane.

“(Student) housing at CSUN is currently full,” Ferguson said, but added that CSUN is not turning anyone down.

The community has started an off-campus-housing list of individuals who have offered their homes to affected students.

“There are currently five open spaces for students,” said Debbie Quinlan, manager of business services at Student Housing.

Those who have offered their homes include a CSUN faculty member and a CSUN alumnus.

According to Blackburn, students need to fill out an application and provide evidence that they were admitted to or enrolled at a university. In some cases, the students may be admitted even if they lack proper academic documents due to the emergency situation. Students will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Students who are residents of the Katrina-affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama will not have to pay non-resident tuition rates, according to a statement from the CSU. The students will still be billed for the CSU State University Fee, all campus fees, requisite housing fees, and other fees as needed.

The CSU, however, said it will provide “flexible deferred payment plans and account receivables as needed,” according to a statement from the system. The CSU has contacted the U.S. Department of Education about financial aid, but is ready to assist those whose checks may not be sent to them right away.

CSU campuses on the quarter-schedule, as well as the least crowded universities, will be able to support the most students entering the CSU system.

Campuses with available space for the fall include CSU Bakersfield, CSU Domingo Hills, CSU East Bay, Humboldt State University, Sacramento State University and CSU Chico. Students looking to enroll at already full campuses like CSUN will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Melanie Saxe can be reached at melaniensaxe@hotmail.com.