Students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be able to pay in-state tuition rates to attend a state college.
The state's Board of Regents for Higher Education decided to lower the college costs for graduating high schoolers from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and also for students transferring from universities there.
"This is the least we can do to be helpful,” said Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, which operates 17 colleges across the state, during the regents meeting in mid-October. "All you have to do is turn on the TV night after night and see the devastation that has engulfed the island."
The universities of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands were hit hard by hurricanes Maria and Irma, and services and communications remain limited. Both schools still have hurricane-related information at the top of their websites.
It's unclear how many students would take advantage of the lower tuition price. In an interview, Ojakian said students from Puerto Rico have already been in touch with his office.
"Students, actually, who have relocated preliminarily to Florida, for example, are now looking to come to Connecticut to be with their families and their friends,” he said.
The details are still being ironed out. Ojakian says he hopes to keep the process simple. Many students would likely need counseling services, he said, and help dealing with Connecticut winters.
Students from Puerto Rico who are currently enrolled, however, will still be paying out-of-state prices. Connecticut has the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans of any state in the country.
This story is part of “The Island Next Door,” WNPR’s reporting project about Puerto Rico and Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.