It is encouraging to hear that the education of students affected by Hurricane Katrina will not go neglected.

Several school districts throughout the country are taking on elementary and secondary school children, whose numbers are thought to exceed 200,000.

In addition, a number of universities (including law schools), both public and private, have offered places to college and graduate school students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

As noted by The New York Times, at least 15 public university systems are charging in-state tuition fees (which are substantially lower than the fees charged to out-of-state residents) to students displaced by the disaster. Over 120 private universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Syracuse, and the University of Chicago, have accepted small numbers of displaced students. In most cases the private universities, which have found places in law and other graduate schools as well as in their undergraduate programs, have not charged any tuition at all — usually so long as the student paid tuition to their original university. Most students attending other universities have been admitted on a visiting basis only.

Nonetheless, the issue of tuition charges has become a hot one. Some parents of students have been delighted that their children have the opportunity to spend a semester or two at another university at the price charged by say, Tulane or Loyola New Orleans. Others, even those with children temporarily attending colleges that are not charging tuition, nonetheless would like the original university to refund their tuition.

I understand that not receiving what you’re paying $20,000 for could make you upset. But I’m not sure that it’s yet time to have this argument, especially as the people running Tulane, etc, don’t have access to their offices, much less to their student and financial aid records. And if ultimately you don’t end up paying any more than you’d committed to, and your child gets as good or a better education in the meantime, is there really a big problem?