University waives tuition fees for hurricane victims

By Guethshina Altena/News Assistant Director

The University issued a disaster response message to inform students of their efforts to assist members of the FIU family with ties to the affected post-hurricane area.

The email offers students from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands a waiver for their out of state tuition fees and an option to apply for a refund for those fees that they already have paid for the fall semester.

The University has also sent a second email update extending this privilege to students from other islands in the caribbean affected by hurricane Irma and Maria. The University has also set up a phone line that students can reach at 305-348-4381.

Rene Diaz is a freshman finance major who started working on this initiative the first week of Oct. as phone line responder and student assistant.

Diaz said that any student who is affected by the hurricane and unable to attend school can call and find out how they can get help by the University, and calls are handled on a case by case basis.

The application to be temporarily admitted to FIU for the mini-term and upcoming Spring semester is open and foreign students can apply at

FIU however, is not accepting students for the Fall semester given that admissions is at full capacity.


Donation bin dedicated to hurricane relief efforts going to victims of the storms, located in the SGA office at MMC.

The opportunity for qualified students to be temporarily admitted with a waiver of their out-of-state tuition fees is available until the end of spring semester, Diaz said.

Puerto Rican students like Zamar Negron, a senior environmental engineering major, sees this initiative as a big help.

“That’s a relief… because I was relying on my mom and dad in order to study this semester, but now that now that they are in this situation.. [It’s harder],” Negron said. “My Dad, he has a bar in Puerto Rico and now that his bar got all flooded, he didn’t have enough power to operate the equipments and keep the bar open.”

Negron has been living in the United States for the past 7 years.

“Puerto Ricans are a strong community, even in the worst case scenarios, we always help each other to get up and we always stay strong as a community, and as Puerto Ricans. We always stay positive,” Negron said.

Negron believes that even though help is coming in slowly after this tragedy, what comforts her is that people are strong in her country and that they will stay stronger than ever.

“Even though people don’t have power, some don’t have water and other ones haven’t eaten in days, they don’t have the resources. They come together as a community and help each other between them,” Negron said.

She encourages other students even those unaffected by the disaster to support the University’s efforts to raise funds and collect donations to benefit the affected countries.

The FIU Foundation has established the Disaster Response and Recovery Fund where 100% of the proceeds will go to those who were affected by the hurricane, according to the email from External Relations.

“We as human being, we appreciate any effort and the help that we get to get back as a community. Wherever this happens, they need help. For example, what happened in Texas, what happened in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, they need our help,” Negron said.

Negron said that she is really happy that the University is doing whatever they can to supply for the needs of those in these unfortunate situations.

Another student, Nimechi Ikechi-uko, a sophomore studying journalism feels grateful that the University has taken the initiative to help students, faculty and staff  in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

“I think it’s good that FIU is doing something because as an international students, we sometimes struggle more to pursue an education than people who are residents of the state,”  Ikechi-uko said.

Ikechi-uko believes that the University’s response to the disaster is helping the affected students from Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and other country preserve their dedication to be in school and not having to wait years for their schools to be rebuild.

“I am sorry for what happened, it’s a messed up situation but [students] need to stay focused on what they came here to do, which is getting a degree,”  Ikechi-uko said. “I mean check on your family members as well and do what is needed but don’t forget to keep working hard for your education.”

The University also refers students to Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of Employee Assistance and the TLC Brigade who can help with the stress of the recent events.

The food pantry is also available on both campuses for all students and the Small Business Administration is accepting loans applications.

For more information on the University disaster response and recovery and other available resources, student can email


Photo by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW.

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