The UCF Board of Trustees voted Thursday to allow students displaced by Hurricane Maria to qualify for a full academic year of in-state tuition, according to a note published on UCF’s Facebook.
The students were initially granted one semester of in-state tuition, but the arrangement is now extended to last through the spring 2019 semester, the note states.
The note states the BOT’s decision was expedited in order to give students time to apply for the summer semester.
The extension would fulfill the 12-month required stay in Florida that allows students to become residents and receive full in-state tuition.
Since Hurricane Maria hit in September, 200 Puerto Rican students enrolled at UCF, according to the note.
The changes affect students who left Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the hurricane, along with students who are already enrolled at UCF and list Puerto Rico as their home residence, according to the note.
This follows President of UCF’s Puerto Rican Student Association Jose Rivera urging UCF SGA senators on Jan. 11 to support a bill he drafted allowing students displaced by the hurricane a full year of in-state tuition.
“We just want to make sure they discuss it,” Rivera previously said. “As the student body and the student representatives, we have to a take stance … we want you to be with us and support us.”
One week later, Rivera and UCF SGA Student Body President and Trustee Nick Larkins spoke at a BOT meeting to request the extended tuition, according to the note.
“The extended in-state tuition gives (students) the support they need to actually become productive and successful members of society and get that help they needed,” Rivera said in the note.
In order to facilitate the transition for incoming students, the note states UCF is identifying Spanish-speaking faculty and staff members to act as mentors. Members of the UCF Puerto Rican Student Association will also serve as peer mentors, according to the note.
“I know some of these students are struggling to make decisions as they go,” UCF BOT Chairman Marcos Marchena said. “I thought giving them this certainty, this early on, was very important for their peace of mind, knowing that they’re going to be treated as in-state students and have that financial burden minimized while they are here for the length of time that they may be here.”