Wednesday, January 17, 2007

FEMA vs. college students

I was reading the latest post on Diane’s new blog “Everyday Faith” about her recent trip to New Orleans and it brought back to mind a news story that’s been circulating today among my friends and myself via email.

The story reports that FEMA is demanding repayment from Dillard University students who received FEMA aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As it turns out, FEMA says, they weren’t ineligible.

Now, naturally, because this is a news story involving my alma mater, I might be a little tender-hearted to the issue, but honestly this is a situation that I think anybody with a heart could feel sympathy for.

I mean, by all accounts, these students were not told that they were ineligible for the aid beforehand. They didn't cheat the system. They followed the proper procedures, filed their claims, were deemed eligible and received that aid.

It wasn’t until July, following an investigation, that FEMA realized they’d made a mistake and started sending out repayment letters basically telling the college students “Oops, our bad. Show me the money.”

Now is it me, or is that just below the belt? How cruel is it to expect college students to repay funds they received in a time of need because of a mistake that the agency made? One student lamented that they lost everything and that the FEMA money was all they had at that time.

I can’t fathom being in a jam like that during my ramen noodle college days…

Thoughts anyone?

1 comment:

JaneDoughnut said...

Some are also being asked to repay unemployment money they recieved during that time. One friend got a part-time job while evacuated to the north, getting maybe 10 hours a week, and notified both FEMA and the unemployment office. Because of the circumstances, they said he was still eligible for unemployment assistance.

Well, guess who's got to find a way to repay it now? Yeah, it definitely seems like a shot below the belt.