To say that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused major disruption to both Texas and Florida would be an understatement. Workplaces, public schools and major roads were all closed, and colleges in both states were no exception. Many cancelled classes, but others took it one step further. Given the level of devastation and destruction to homes and apartments, colleges offered to extend application deadlines as well as offer grace periods for students with extenuating circumstances. Many early college deadlines fall in October and November, and for many families in the Houston area as well as in southern Florida who have lost almost everything, college deadlines may or may not be on the back burner. Not to mention, some of the physical aspects necessary to complete a college application may be completely ruined.With that in mind, many colleges across Texas are offering an unparalleled level of leniency for applicants this college application season. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Dean of Admission at Texas Christian University sent an email to potential applicants on August 28 that read: “If our $50 application fee presents a problem, we will waive it. If our deadline poses an issue, we will extend it. If counselors at your school are unavailable, we will offer you college counseling services." That was the first statement of its kind, and since then, colleges nationwide have expressed the same sentiment. Harvard College has told applicants that they are offering an extension on their November 1 Early Action application deadline as well as extensions for high school counselors on transcripts, letters of recommendation and other materials.The same applies to the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Though many families won’t be able to reflect the effects of Hurricane Harvey on their FAFSA, they’ll be asked – or will need to take initiative on their own – to file a “special circumstances” letter to the colleges to which they plan to apply. This will allow schools to make professional judgment calls on what families that have been affected by Harvey can realistically pay. To start this process, families simply have to contact the financial aid office at the colleges to which they plan to apply. For current students, many colleges extended tuition and course-change deadlines, allowing students the chance to take time for their families and homes versus worrying about college calendars. Florida colleges have dealt with their share of closures as well. Many of those schools suffered from flooding, power outages and sewage back-ups. Miami University plans to forego its fall break in order to catch up on courses while Florida International has added a week to the semester in December, according to ABC News.With everything affected students and their families have to worry about over the next few months, and even years, one thing they don’t have to worry about is college deadlines. But the key for students is to communicate well with the colleges they plan to apply to or are currently attending. Keep colleges knowledgeable on your situation with emails, phone calls and letters to the correct offices and representatives.
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