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Study Shows Significant Educational, Psychological Impacts for Displaced Students

April 13, 2006

It has been estimated that up to 100,000 students attending institutions in Louisiana and Mississippi were displaced last fall due to Hurricane Katrina. A recent study by three researchers at Gulf Coast institutions attempts to capture and quantify the evacuation experiences of these students as well as the economic, medical, psychological, and academic impacts. “The Other Diaspora: New Orleans Student Evacuation Impacts and Responses Surrounding Hurricane Katrina” gathered information from 7,100 displaced students from Loyola University, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University. Among the findings:

Mental and Economic Impacts

  • More than a quarter (26 percent) had a family member, significant other, or close friend who was missing during or after the hurricane; 9 percent had a family member or close friend who died.

  • More than 60 percent of students evacuated or moved to a new residence or shelter twice, and more than a third (36 percent) evacuated three or more times.

  • More than half (52 percent) indicated that they were not able to function normally (physically or mentally) for up to two months after the hurricane.

  • Almost 85 percent of students experienced financial loss; most students applied for assistance from FEMA (81 percent) and the Red Cross (62 percent). Sixty-nine percent actually received or anticipated receiving money from FEMA, and more than half of those surveyed received or anticipated funds from the Red Cross.

Academic Impacts and University Experiences

  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of students reported that no evacuation assistance was provided by their institution.

  • A large proportion (74 percent) indicated that their academic performance was “somewhat,” “very,” or “definitely likely” negatively affected by the hurricane.

  • In general, students reported positive experiences at the institutions to which they temporarily transferred for the fall 2005 semester. For example, almost all (94 percent) of students took classes at another university that could be transferred back to their home institution. 

The full report provides detail on the students surveyed, their experiences, and insights for the future.