It's been seven weeks since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico with 150 mph winds and feet of rain. The Universidad de Puerto Rico (UPR), the largest public university system in Puerto Rico, is open but some services are interrupted, leaving 58,000 UPR students with uncertainty about their educations and the future.
To help students bounce back, multiple colleges across the U.S. are accepting Puerto Rican college students, tuition-free.
On Thursday, New York University (NYU) introduced the Hurricane Maria Assistance Program, which will provide 50 Puerto Rican students with free tuition, free housing, health insurance and a meal program for the 2018 spring semester.
"The situation in Puerto Rico is obviously something that we've all been watching with great concern over the last several weeks," NYU president Andrew Hamilton told the New York Times. "We're pleased to be able to do this."
Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, was one of the first universities to offer this kind of assistance to Puerto Rican students. On October 13th, Tulane announced that it would offer Puerto Rican college students a tuition-free guest semester.
Jeff Schuffman, Director of Admission at Tulane shared in a blog post, "After Katrina, universities and colleges around the world took in our students with open arms; it's now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need."
"These young people, and nearly everyone in Puerto Rico, have gone through a terrible trauma," said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. "This is our way of reaching out to them and our university colleagues in Puerto Rico to show we stand with them and their families during this difficult time in their academic, professional and personal lives."
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, Brown University shared that it would accept 50 UPR students. According to Brown's website, "Brown will not charge tuition or fees and is assisting with travel and providing housing."
"Our entire community has been deeply moved by the devastation that Puerto Rico has suffered," said Provost Richard Locke. "Partnering with the University of Puerto Rico offers the opportunity for us to welcome exceptional students and scholars to College Hill to continue their research and education while their campuses work to reopen."
UPR chemistry major Andrés Martínez-Muñiz is one of the students who has been selected to attend Brown for free.
"The students at University of Puerto Rico have had to put their careers on pause and are at the mercy of something they can't control," he said. "Brown is working to minimize that effect and to offer opportunities to students affected by this natural disaster… This is what universities should do — open their doors and help."
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