By Duane Paul Murphy
The Catholic University of America will waive tuition and other student fees to welcome up to 40 students currently enrolled in degree programs in colleges and universities in Puerto Rico to support them in the wake of damage done by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Students are now eligible to apply to be enrolled in the spring semester.
According to the Monday, November 6th email from the university’s Office of Marketing and Communications, students who register for a minimum of three courses or nine credits will be eligible on campus housing, but standard one-semester room and board charges will still apply. Applications will be accepted for those 40 students through December 15th of this year. University officials have said that this action will be taken in the wake of recent natural disasters as well as to show support to those affected by them.
“Throughout the fall semester our University community has provided assistance to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and to our students with ties there,” said University President John Garvey. “Inspired by the example of Pope Francis and our bishops, we wanted to make a more significant impact by offering our support during the spring semester. We believe the best support we can provide is a welcoming community where students can continue their academic pursuits.”
Other universities on the U.S. mainland such as St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida will be offering free tuition and food through the spring semester of 2018 for those students affected by the hurricanes and their impact on the island territory. Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana will also offer free tuition for those students impacted by the recent storms through the spring semester of next year. The university has not indicated what kind of selection process it will take in accepting the forty students, but it did note that the offer is available to students pursuing any program of study and Catholic will work to accommodate their individual course needs.
Many students on campus, especially those from the storm-struck Caribbean island territory, expressed support for the university’s plan to help students studying back home.
“I think it’s great that CUA is helping students from Puerto Rico,” said junior politics major Alondra Class from San Juan. “These students are going through a time of great uncertainty and this shows them and currents students at CUA from Puerto Rico that they are aware of the situation and willing to lend a helping hand.”
Other students are glad to see those from the island territory getting support to continue their own education from universities on the mainland.
“I personally believe is a great idea,” said senior politics major Adriana Velez from San Juan. “Several students around the United States are doing it as well and it is incredible because it helps Puerto Rican students keep moving forward. This prevents students from losing their semester due to Hurricane Maria.”
Some students are glad to see the university’s fulling its obligation to help others as both a Catholic institution and an American institution.
“I think it is a noble cause what the university is doing because it reflects how much it cares for all Americans no matter if they are in the states or if they are in the territory,” said junior philosophy major Jerry Santiago from San Juan. “Also, it just reflects how that Catholic value of helping thy neighbor.”