Finding Financial Support for Katrina’s Students


        Victims of Hurricane Katrina have lost jobs, valuables and access to their savings and checking accounts due to the tremendous impact of the storm on the local banks. Howard University students fromLouisiana are experiencing the same difficulties though they are roughly a thousand miles away.

Electricity shortages and delays in processing transactions  have resulted in frozen accounts and obstacles when trying to access money, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The FDIC has encouraged people to call their banks to help them re-route to a working branch in their new location. With proper identification, banks will help people access funds since verification systems aren’t working at many ATMs.

In a Town Hall Meeting held Wednesday, September 7, students and faculty gathered in Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel to discuss the university’s plans to financially assist students from Louisiana and prospective students from the affected areas.

President H. Patrick Swygert discussed the surge in phone calls from students interested in transferring. “We are admitting students on a case by case basis but we’ve not turned anyone away based upon their financial circumstance,” Swygert said. The University is planning to accommodate close to 300 transfer students.

Dominique Charles, a senior majoring in accounting from Louisiana is primarily concerned with her tuition payment. She disagrees with the frequent suggestions to take out a loan.

“My dad told me ‘You are going to leave school debt free,'” Charles said. “I understand that it takes time to work and get the money together but I would like to see more immediate results.” she continued

Swygert and the board of trustees will be meeting later this month to work on plans to potentially waive tuition, offer scholarships, book vouchers and other aid. A resource database will be established to respond to student’s needs accordingly.

Roberta McCleod, Howard University Wide Coordinator is mainly responsible for handling the relief fund. Students are filling out aid applications detailing their needs including books, clothing, and necessities for their families. The money and donations collected will be distributed upon review of  the applications.

Many students like Alan Causey have decided to go to the Red Cross for assistance while Howard University is further developing the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund operations.

For personal needs, I’ve really just been going to the Red Cross. It’s a quick process, it’s painless,” said Causey senior majoring in broadcast journalism from Louisiana who has his tuition covered through scholarships.

All he had to do was show his Louisiana ID, fill out some forms and then he was given a credit card with available money.

The process for obtaining and allocating funds is complex but McCleod assured the audience that Howard was working as quickly as possible. “The government has guidelines that you can’t go beyond even in a disaster so they are now in the Department of Education re-thinking their policies and guidelines to make special allowances,” Mc McLeod said.