Southeast Missouri State University has begun enrolling college students who were displaced from their schools due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.
The action comes at the request of the board of regents after regent Al Spradling III made the recommendation at a meeting Thursday.
"We believe, and our board believes, that we need to help in any way that we can," said university president Dr. Ken Dobbins. "There are a lot of students that are displaced because of the hurricane."
Southeast is offering these students in-state fees and merit and need-based scholarships regularly offered to incoming freshmen.
"We will offer them scholarship packages which they would have qualified for if they enrolled at Southeast," Dobbins said.
As of Friday, Southeast has had two students enroll, including one from the St. Louis area who was attending Xavier University and another from Mississippi. In all, the university has had about a dozen inquiries from displaced students who were attending Xavier, Tulane and Loyola universities in New Orleans, and the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
"The young man who was attending Xavier University came in today and knew exactly what he needed to take," Dobbins said. "We got him enrolled, he got his books and he'll start classes on Tuesday."
Both traditional and online courses will be offered to the students.
Dobbins said Southeast will defer students' federal financial aid packages in an effort to speed up the processing time.
As the university heads into its third week of classes, students seeking admission are asked to enroll by Friday. After that, students will have missed too much coursework for the fall semester.
"We want the students to be successful," Dobbins said. "So we really need them to enroll by the end of next week."
Debbie Below, director of admissions and enrollment management, said that Southeast does not want to take students away from their home universities, but rather wishes to lend a helping hand to those from the disaster-ridden Gulf Coast.
"We're just trying to do what we can to help during this grave disaster," Below said. "We will work with them on a case-by-case basis."
Dobbins said Southeast needs assistance from the public in getting the word out to students who have been displaced by the hurricane and still wish to enroll in courses.
"We don't know who these students are," he said. "We need the public's help so these students can still take classes this fall."
Displaced students interested in enrolling at Southeast this fall are asked to contact the Office of Admissions at (573) 651-2590.
The University of Missouri in Columbia and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale are also accepting students who were displaced by the hurricane.