UCF Extends In-State Tuition Rate for Puerto Rican Students Displaced by Hurricane Maria
By Heather Smith, UCF // January 19, 2018
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – The UCF Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to continue to allow students displaced by Hurricane Maria to qualify for in-state tuition.
The board extended the tuition reduction, which started this spring, through the spring 2019 semester for students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The reduction applies to students who fled Puerto Rico due to the hurricane, as well as students whose home residence is Puerto Rico and who were already enrolled at UCF.
The Board of Trustees accelerated approval of the extended tuition rate for a full academic year in order to provide students with sufficient time to apply for the summer semester.
“We should view this as an opportunity to serve,” said UCF President John C. Hitt.
“UCF has done great things for the Puerto Rican students, and many students have come, thanks to that help,” said Jose Rivera, a junior economics student and president of UCF’s Puerto Rican Student Association. “The extended in-state tuition gives (students) the support they need to actually become productive and successful members of society and get that help they needed.”
Rivera previously expressed concerns about the future for displaced students to Student Government Association president and Trustee Nick Larkins. Rivera and Larkins addressed the board today to express gratitude for the support so far and to request extended tuition reduction.
The board acknowledged how far many of the students traveled from their home country and the financial hardships the hurricane has created on their families. Many of the displaced students are working full-time in addition to attending classes.
“I’m very proud of the action that our board took today. This is very meaningful to folks that are in need,” said UCF Board of Trustees Chairman Marcos Marchena.
“I know some of these students are struggling to make decisions as they go. I thought giving them this certainty, this early on, was very important for their peace of mind, knowing that they’re going to be treated as in-state students and have that financial burden minimized while they are here for the length of time that they may be here.”
An additional 200 Puerto Rican students have enrolled at UCF since Hurricane Maria, and a welcome reception was thrown in their honor earlier this week.
A university-wide effort has been underway to identify Spanish-speaking faculty and staff and to pair students from Puerto Rico with a UCF mentor. Members of the Puerto Rican Student Association also are serving as peer mentors to help students navigate UCF and become acclimated with Orlando. Intensive English classes are being offered, and students are being assisted with housing and scholarship opportunities.
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