In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many young people from Puerto Rico – elementary, secondary and college students – are now moving to the United States, and in particular, Florida – to resume their education.
The opportunity to move and continue their schooling in Florida – has been even more advantageous with the ‘waiver of out-state-tuition’ for many of Florida’s public universities and all of its 28 state colleges. The offer has also been extended to some of Florida’s private colleges, allowing young people to resume their college degree – at either public and/or some private institutions – during the Spring 2018 semester.
And at Florida International University, in Miami, a grant is available to help displaced Puerto Rican college students pay for tuition, dorm, and even, food.
For many students, the chance to come to Florida to resume their education is considered a ‘god-send.’ University of Puerto Rico twenty-two year old student Augusto Ortiz was 13 credits short of graduating when the hurricanes hit her home – damaging everything in sight – and leaving her and her family without electricity for 41 days.
Augusto Oritz decided to finish his bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida (UCF) in Orlando. Now, he is staying with his grandparents in nearby Kissimmee, studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and looking for a job to hold him until the Spring, 2018 semester begins. Augusto says the decision to move to mainland – and transfer to UCF was easy – once he learned he did not have to pay out-of-state tuition, a savings of nearly $8,000 per semester. The average out-of-state undergraduate student pays an out-state-rate of about $750/credit hour.
For elementary and secondary students, the challenge, though, is more than economic. Students – who are only fluent in Spanish – are now entering Florida’s public schools – creating a very real and pressing concern for teachers, administrators, and support specialists. Teachers – are learning – what it means to work with a diverse and divergent population – who are eager to learn, but unable to speak in English – and thus, must lean on others to help them translate and learn.
Meanwhile, at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, classes resumed on October 30, 2017. Yet, not all of its 11 campuses are up and running – and officials estimate that the university endured damage totaling more than $100 million
For more on students from Puerto Rico transferring to Florida schools, see
Puerto Rico College Students in Central Florida
Puerto Rico College Students Pay In-State Tuition at Florida Schools
Florida International University Offers Displaced Students from Puerto Rico Tuition Grants
Students from Puerto Rico Attend Florida Bay District Schools After Families Displaced
Displaced Puerto Rican Students and College Tuition – New York Times