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Katrina-Affected Colleges to Receive New Federal Funds

Katrina-Affected Colleges to Receive New Federal Funds

Gulf Coast colleges — including historically Black institutions — as well as students hard hit by Hurricane Katrina soon will get access to an extra $230 million in federal aid.

The bulk of the funds, $200 million, is part of a U.S. Department of Defense spending bill for the 2006 fiscal year. Congress attached a variety of hurricane-related provisions to the defense legislation, one of the last bills to clear Congress before the end of 2005.

Under the plan, $95 million will go to each higher education agency in Louisiana and Mississippi. There are certain strings attached to some of these funds. The Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning will receive that state’s allocation but must spend the money on student aid.

The Louisiana Board of Regents is the other funding recipient and can use the funding for any purpose authorized under the Higher Education Act.

In mid-January, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced that the Bush administration will provide another $30 million by redirecting unspent federal financial aid. “We know that much work remains to be done,” Spellings said after meeting with presidents of colleges affected by the hurricane.

Many New Orleans colleges hit hard by the hurricane are attempting to operate on a more ambitious schedule this spring. Dillard University, an HBCU, left its temporary headquarters in Atlanta and is operating its offices out of a Hilton hotel in New Orleans this spring.

Southern University-New Orleans will offer classes at its north campus and at a middle school, with students and employees able to obtain housing at a local Marriott hotel. Xavier University of Louisiana was expecting 3,100 students to return to its midtown campus for the spring semester.

— Charles Dervarics

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