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Distance Learning for Katrina Victims


Note: Although some resources are still available, many of the programs listed below are no longer available. Thousands of hurricane victims unable to return to local colleges and universities may have another option – online courses. Distance learning institutions around the country are opening special enrollment and providing discounts and other assistance for displaced students.

Students can take transferable courses from over 200 colleges and universities tuition free at Sloan Semester. This accelerated 8 week program, provided by the Sloan Consortium and Southern Regional Education Board, allows students to take courses online and pay only for the textbooks and materials their courses require.

The distance learning program at the University of Florida is offering late enrollment exceptions to hurricane victims as well as a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses.

A number of other colleges and universities across the nation are opening their doors to displaced students. CampusRelief.org provides a list of more than 800 institutions willing to enroll students. Special late enrollments, financial aid, and other resources are available at many of these colleges.

Students who want to benefit from one of these programs should consider the following:

    1. Make sure that you are in a physical and emotional position to be able to handle the coursework. If you need a semester off, don’t hesitate to take it.

    2. Even if you can’t find what you’re looking for online, be sure to give the college you are interested in attending a call. Many community colleges offer online courses with low tuition fees and are willing to give Katrina victims assistance.

    3. If possible, check with your former school to make sure the courses you intend to take will be transferable. Regionally accredited schools will be the easiest to transfer credits from.

    4. Remember that federal financial aid does not transfer between institutions. If you intended to receive FAFSA money from your former school, you will need to reapply at your new school. You do not need to fill out the entire form; just list your current school as your educational institution and contact a financial aid advisor. Fortunately, the House passed a special bill permitting students to keep their Pell Grants when they transfer to another school; students receiving these grants should still contact the financial advisor at their new school.

    5. If you are unable to get financial aid at your new school, consider applying for a Sallie Mae Hurricane Relief Loan for students. These $1000 loans are interest-free until June 2006.

Want to help students and schools affected by the hurricane? Check out the Department of Education’s What Schools Need list.
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