Tulane student leaves u after tuition dispute

Aimee Jensen just wanted somewhere to go to school.

She had originally planned to attend Tulane University in New Orleans last fall, but Hurricane Katrina forced her to make other plans.

After evacuating New Orleans, she relocated to Utah to attend the U. But after three days, she left the U over a tuition payment discrepancy.

The confusion came when Jensen, who was among a handful of Tulane students planning to transfer to the U after Hurricane Katrina, was told by U employees to pay the U’s tuition, despite having been told that the U was offering her free tuition.

She also discovered that she would have to pay the $20,000 in Tulane tuition if she wanted her credits transferred there for Spring Semester.

Jensen said this was upsetting because, after scholarships, her tuition at Tulane was about $4,000 for Fall Semester, and tuition at the U was far cheaper-about $1,500.

She didn’t think it was fair that she should pay nearly three times the regular amount to attend the U.

Jensen then decided not to attend the U, but when she tried to get the $1,500 refunded, U employees first told her that it would be two to six weeks until they would know if her tuition could be refunded.

After three days of talking with administrators, Jensen’s tuition was finally refunded.

Kay Harward, associate vice president for student affairs, said that the U will allow displaced undergraduate students to attend the U for Fall Semester, free of charge, as long as they have paid tuition at their original school. The policy for graduate students varies from department to department.

“We felt a moral obligation to help displaced students continue their education,” Harward said.

Jensen believes that the U is responsible for the mix-up and said that employees shouldn’t have told her to pay U tuition.

“No one at the U really knows what’s going on,” she said.

Harward admitted there were communication problems between the administration and the tuition office.

“Aimee was one of the first displaced students to come to the U. At that time, we were just developing the policy. Now the policy is more clear,” Harward said.

The tuition payment dispute is just one of a number of stressful occurrences Jensen has experienced.

“It’s just hard because you don’t know what’s happening, and there’s no one to call to find out,” she said.

Jensen said that the transfer process from Tulane to the U was difficult not only because of the U trying to make her pay tuition, but also because Tulane wasn’t keeping its students updated about the process. She said that she wasn’t even aware of the problem with tuition payment until Sept. 13, 2005.

The incident is not just isolated to the U. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that many students from Tulane and other evacuated Gulf Coast schools were being forced to pay tuition to their original schools even though they are now attending much cheaper schools.