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Options for displaced students

Utah System of Higher Education officials are welcoming college students who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina to attend any one of this state's 10 public institutions.

Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Kendell made the announcement Thursday, echoing offers already made by the University of Utah and the private Westminster College.

The U. stipulated students must already be residents of Utah and that they register for fall semester by Sept. 14.

Westminster is picking up the tab for affected students, regardless of whether they have already paid tuition to their home institution, according to spokeswoman Helen Langan.

Westminster, the U. and Utah State University have received inquiries from displaced students, according to officials at those schools. The U. alone has six displaced students interested.

The American Council on Education estimates that the hurricane damaged more than 30 colleges and universities, disrupting the education of up to 100,000 students.

"I don't think we're expecting more than a couple dozen," said USHE spokeswoman Amanda Covington. She said presidents of all the schools have been notified of USHE's offer so they can prepare to handle requests on an individual basis.

The impact on an institution's budget, Covington said, won't be very large.

Kendell said in a press release that schools are "eager to support those whose college educations have been disrupted."

Displaced students now in Utah who are interested in taking up the USHE on its offer are being asked to contact the president's office of the college or university nearest to where they're currently living. A list of phone numbers can be found at under the link "Institutions."

Students may also contact Covington at 801-321-7110.

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