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Area schools welcome students from Gulf Coast

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UM-St. Louis is among those schools who will take in hurricane-effected schools. (KWMU file photo)

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – The University of Missouri-St. Louis is offering to help students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Several colleges and universities in the Gulf region, including Loyola and Tulane, are closed due to damage from the hurricane.

UM-St. Louis admissions director Melissa Hattman says the university will admit and enroll any qualified students from those schools and will waive application and late registration fees.

"I think many of them may find, particularly if they're thinking about going back to some of those institutions in the metro New Orleans area, I think they may find that classes may not being offered even in January, depending on how much damage there is, Hattman said.

"So it's very possible that we could have these students for a couple of semesters."

UM-St. Louis has already received several calls from students that have returned to this region from Louisiana and Mississippi and are interested in taking classes.

Other schools in the region, including SLU and Webster, say they've gotten calls, asking for information on enrollment.

Missouri's education commissioner, Kent King, has sent a letter to all public school administrators saying that children relocated because of the hurricane technically qualify as homeless. He says there should be no barrier to enrolling them promptly.

King also says a lack of school and immunization records is not an issue, and they automatically qualify for free and reduced price lunches.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is encouraging community colleges in that state to take in Illinoisans who were enrolled at schools in the South and who are now displaced.

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