Thursday, September 08, 2005

The $18,000 Question

There's going to be a lot of attention to this issue very soon. I’m writing this blog to present some of my views on the issue, and hopefully get a lot of your views in response. The New York Times is planning to write some kind of story on this issue, and I think that when Tulane announces their official position, there’s going to be a lot of controversy. The issue at hand: the tuition money and whether we will see it again or not.. To some, it sounds ridiculous for rich kids to worry about their money when there are people who lost everything. But there are tons of people at Tulane who need their money very badly. Contrary to popular belief, there aren't very many people who can drop $18,000 without asking a question or two. I want to the focus on this site to still be regarding uptown and any information that I get, however I’m foreseeing a big fight over this in the next couple of weeks and I want everyone’s opinion.

The Chronicle of Higher Learning, in this interview, said 'Tulane plans to keep tuition revenue that it has already received from its students for the fall. (and quoted Scott Cowen as saying) "That allows us to have some source of revenue this fall, while we are closed."' I do not think this is Tulane’s definitive policy. I think, and hope, the policy will be flexible. There will be exceptions to it. There will be people who appeal it. There will people who “strongly dislike it.”

Let’s look at both sides. Tulane needs the money, there’s no doubt about it. They might have $600 million in the bank, maybe more, but that doesn’t mean they are supposed to spend it. They have a specific budget and have probably gone 10 times over it (in terms of extra unanticipated expenses that will not be covered by insurance). They have to pay their staff, faculty, expenses, new insurance premiums, and all sorts of other stuff. Without our money, Tulane could be hit pretty hard. But the implications are bigger than that. Tulane is the largest employer in New Orleans. Tulane is a world leader in scientific research. Tulane is the a community leader in environmental protection and in many, many other areas. So if Tulane is substantially affected, the impact can be enormous. We need Tulane to stay up and running; millions of people need Tulane to stay up and running.

However, should it be the case that we pay full tuition for a university that is sub Tulane? Should we have to pay money to go to a school that doesn’t have half as good professors as Tulane does? Well, maybe the question is, are we still Tulane students? If we are Tulane students, “visiting” another university, then essentially we aren’t going to any other university, we are still attending Tulane. It seems that the biggest issue would be for people who don’t attend classes. Is there any justification for Tulane to keep some of the money of the many students who opt to work this semester? (there’s no way they won’t give most of it back) What about part time students? Is there any justification for Tulane to keep the money of part time students?

The final word is that Tulane does not have bad intentions. They aren’t going to do anything without substantial justification. They will be understanding, they will be accommodating. Let’s NOT judge them until we heard the final policy. Let’s wait to see what they’ve got to say before we jump to any conclusions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the Chronicle of Higher Education Article.

Most important point of article: Cowen feels Tulane needs to open next semester to survive. Hanging on to the tuition indiscriminately like this, which in my opinion is very poor judgment and opens the university to ill will and liability, shows just how desperate the situation is.

There are four tiers of students: students like my daughter, who are attending private colleges or universities that cost as much as Tulane: they are getting full value for their tuition (in my daughter's case, her scholarship); students who are at public or low cost institutions who could not have gotten in there but for the intervention of Tulane: they are also getting full value for their tuition; students who are at public institutions who would have had the right to go to those institutions regardless; they should be entitled to a partial refund, and if they don't get it, they will never return to Tulane except to throw darts at it; and students who are not in school this semester; they should get a full refund.

Tulane desperately needs a large FEMA grant and also should dip into its endowment; if now now, when? If I was thrown out of my house for months on end, I would certainly dip into my savings, and I'm a tightwad. Halliburton just got a 500 million dollar hurricane related contract; Tulane, which is in a much better position to help New Orleans recover, should expect no less.

It's certainly a complex situation with no black and white, only shades of gray.

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets see we already paid Tulane, my son is going to another school for now, and we have to pay them. If Tulane does not want to lose 3 1/2 years tuition they better see the light. My son has a school loan and Stanford loan at Tulane.I don't see how they can keep the money.

4:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a hard situation. I understand that Tulane needs to have some money to keep going, but I agree with the mother who said they should definitely dip into savings. I'm attending Tulane on scholarship, and yesterday I started my first day at Mizzou. My first class was with 500 people and although it was upper level, I had already learned all of what we did that day in an honors class at Tulane. Also, Mizzou doesn't really have classes geared toward my major-political economy. So in short- I don't like the idea of Tulane keeping all my money when I'm forced to attend a huge state school I had tried to avoid for years.
My big question is, if I take a few classes here, but need to go an extra semester at Tulane to finish up, will they extend my scholarship?

4:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that Tulane needs the money. Hell, have you seen the new student center they're building?

But, here's my thing: My mom paid for my tuition in cash. My parents have spent all my life saving for me to go to college. And, honestly, I worked my ass off to get the scholarship[s] that I did.

I chose Tulane because it had a welcoming atmosphere; I knew everyone would look out for each other, for the most part. [Both unlike the community college which I have chosen attend this semester.]

I can only hope that President Cowen does not disappoint the students; return the money and they will return as students.

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are not wealthy and only by the grace of God did we manage to come up with the tuition for our son to attend Tulane. At least give us the option to allow Tulane to keep a portion of the tuition under the circumstances. Most people would be more receptive to that approach.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I posted under "Show Me the Money,":

While their sentiments [in "the guidelines"] may certainly be in the right place, I think all these schools need to talk to a lawyer, because they just do not have a legal right to unilaterally change the basic contract between Tulane student and Tulane University. The tuition paid is for an education at Tulane only. Both the Tulane student and Tulane University can change that contract together; but one party to a contract cannot unilaterally make any such change to the basic agreement.

I know Tulane needs the money. But -- and the legal issues aside -- it seems unreasonable for Tulane and these education associations to suggest that parents provide forced charity to Tulane in order to attend classes at other schools this fall.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tulane has a policy for refunding 100% of the tuition for students who "withdrawal" by Tuesday September 13. Should those of us who were offered and accepted admission at lower cost public institutions seek this refund? What are the consequences for withdrawing in terms of rejoining the University when it reopens? Tulane also has a general policy stating that credits for classes equivalent to those offered at Tulane can be transferred. This should still apply whether the student is paying Tulane tuition (under their current proposal) or not (as if the student transferred back to Tulane).

7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe Tulane will not try to rip off their students as they are already worried about enrollment for next year, i believe they need our money form this semester to pay for repairs bu next semester they may not charge students who paid for their fall semester, also any institution you are a visiting student at should not be charging you tuition, room and board should be the only items you are charged for according to an article i read, cant remember where

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of those people not attending classes and choosing to work and maybe volunteer down south in a few months. I have over 5 thousand dollars in loans (for this semester) that were on their way to Tulane when Katrina hit. I want that money back or at least credited to next semester, I intend on attending Tulane an extra semester, so in the end they will get the same amount of money from me. But I'm not paying 5000+ dollars to not go to school. I have faith in Tulane and people. Everything will work out.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, Tulane will be just about this. Just wait it out an have faith. The money will be returned

7:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh hell no, I am not living at home and taking TWO classes at a STATE school for IN-STATE tuition for $18,000. I'd better get a full refund, and we'll pay for the state school with our own money, or else Tulane will be hearing from my lawyer. We entered into a contract with Tulane, and that contract was that they would provide me with housing, food and a full course load in exchange for my money. Through no fault of their own, they could not fulfill their part of the contract, and while that is regretful that does not mean I should have to pay for something I did not receive. Sorry Tulane, I love you and I'm coming back, but I am not paying for this semester.

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent of a scholarship/ financial aid/work study student who will be unable to attend another University this yea (no money for room/board around here), a compromise that I would consider would be that all loans and outside scholarship funds(including SEOG and PELL) be returned to my daughter with the possibility of extending the tulane scholarships if an extra term is required, although my daughter is ahead academically and can miss a term and still graduate on schedule. I have a feeling lots of individual deals like these should be looked at. Failure to do so will ruin Tulane's reputation and the school will die if $18000 is kept. We can't afford a lawyer to fight for this money so I hope that Tulane will be fair.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be helpful if Tulane would address as many of these complex issues as possible before the 100% tuition refund deadline; and is the refund deadline still under the same timeline if classes didn't start in the original timeline? Our son is now a visiting student at another school and we accepted and enrolled and agreed to pay that school (cost is about 70% of Tulane tuition) before Tulane published their policy. The deadline for requiring his enrollment expired before the Tulane policy was published, so we made the best decision we could under the circumstances.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not believe that anyone has to formally withdraw in order to protect his or her tuition paid for fall 2005 semester -- as there is nothing to withdraw from. This tuition was paid for something not being provided and, as such, is due and owing from Tulane.

The only way this situation can be lawfully changed is by BOTH the Tulane student and the Tulane University. I.e., the student may put such fall 2005 semester tuition at risk if he or she affirmatively accepts "the guidelines" upon enrolling in another school for the semester.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should add to my just posted comment: Accepting another school's offer of free or reduced tuition for the semester is not the same as accepting "the guidelines" posted on the internet on 9-2-2005.

9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wish tulane would stop being such flakes and TELL US WHATS GOING ON. I paid less than 4 grand on UT-Austin for 12 hours that are pretty much in no way counting to my double major..not worth 18K. Sorry Tulane give me back my money or im saying in Texas.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying not to jump to conclusions, but it seems that Mr. Cowen needs to address this issue before some of the others if he has any hopes of the majority of his students returning in the spring and/or next year.
My daughter falls into the category of students whose parents paid the tuition and then she ended up at a lesser school. I will not be forced to donate my $13,000 (partial scholarship) to rebuild Tulane, especially if they can't answer a question that might be painful, but surely can be addressed within a two-week period.
Although we all love Tulane, I'm have serious second thoughts about sending my daughter back there if they can't address this issue by end of the week. I don't expect the refund check in the next month, but I do expect a straightforward response, with a date attached, on how and when my money will be returned to me.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the 8:43am post above and should have also added that we had already paid Tulane for our son's Fall semester.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Tulane needs the tuition money to some extent. But it seems that this is one of the situations that they would spend all of the saved up money for. my family is not what you would call well off, and I just CANNOT afford to pay any more than is absolutely necessary.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuition was due August 31. My daughter was home then and I had no way of paying, nor would I if I could since I didn't know what kind of money I had to come up with to send her to another school this semester, which we have since done. I would be livid if I had paid her tuition and couldn't get it back. You folks have to protect yourselves and your education before you protect Tulane.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous anonymous said...

After all this tragedy, let's have some patience. Right now, Tulane is trying to rebuild it's infrastructure so it can reopen in the spring.

I'm no millionare, I'm scraping for cash too. But let's have some faith that even if Tulane keeps some of the money, it will be repaid or credited. Scott Cowen cannot be stupid enough to keep all of the tuition payments and expect no rebuttals or lawsuits. Take a look at our city, and be glad you are alive. This issue will be resolved.

Money is secondary, and that's coming from someone who doesn't have any.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Protect yourself:

1) Send a certified letter to the Tulane Houston campus announcing your intent not to return for the Fall '05 semester prior to the published September 13 deadline. Ask for any tuition money to be returned per the catalog which is a legal document. It doesn't matter that classes have not or will not begin this fall. You are following the current catalog/contract that as of this date has not been changed.

2) If and when Tulane reopens determine how your credits will be transfered. If Tulane does not give you the credit you feel is justified, sayonora! If they do, then file a petition for readmission. Tulane will be so desperate that they will grant any such petition for readmission and they will surely be discounting tuition.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel as a parent of an incoming feshman that I am totally bewildered by the insensitivity of the Tulane President. When I went for a tour of Tulane in the spring, the only comment made about the President is that he spent an inordinate amount of money to have the Presidents house changed so that it faced St. Charles avenue. As the tragedy in New Orleans unfolded I had to turn to the LOYOLA website to get information on what was happening. AFter a frantic rush to get my daughter enrolled in another school taht had already been in session for two weeks and went out of their way to get her in classes that had already been closed and a room in an already full dormitory I am now supposed to go to them and say, "Oh by the way we won't be paying you, it will go to Tulane." It is commendable that so may of you have absolute loyality to Tulane, but you have to remember that Freshman do not yet have that loyalty and going to another school will not be a big tragedy. She never even had an enrollment conference so we are flying blind in enrolling her in anything related to an undecided major. Given this I have reservations about sending my daugter to a city that is so polluted and to a President who seems to have put students last on his things to do list. His postings on undergraduate students have been few and far between. Really the only reason I am inclined to send her back is the baffling (to me)support of the upperclassmen and almuni and not any action of El Presidente.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the parent of a Freshman. I live in a part of the country where hurricaines are a way of life. (S. Florida). In this part of the country we know enough to spend a lot of money on insurance such as windstorm, business interupt and flood policies. If a business here has devestating losses because they are underinsured, they don't get to keep their client's money. The fact that Cowan could make a statement indicating that he intends to keep our money because he needs it is laughable. I could not find a school to take my student, so we are already on the losing end of this deal. I am open to discussion and negotiation, but I will also put in a full set of applications for other schools, and if I don't think the university being fair, we will go elsewhere, and sue to recover our money

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post - forget the money, the apparent blunders of Dr. Cowen and his "team", the state of New Orleans...the big question as a parent is do you send your child back to an unhealthy environment that could affect his/her health? Who wants their child be be a guinea pig?

11:11 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

For those students who have already paid and have chosen not to study this semester, I can't imagine Tulane won't credit you for next semester. I fully expect my room and board to credit for next semester.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Kyle, I couldn't imagine that it would take this long for the Tulane administration to set a policy regarding this. All this tells me is they don't know, can't figure it out or they are in deeper trouble then they want anyone to believe. You paid, you didn't receive, send the money back. It can't be any easier.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI This was on the Daily Jolt forum:

Cowen dinner
caitlin (Guest) Today, 12:21 pm

Hey y'all...
just an update for the interested. i'm from houston so i took my job back at a restaurant downtown here (which will remain nameless to protect the innocent)...and scott cowen came in with a bunch of people last night, including what appeared to be Tulane admins. etc. We were instructed to treat them like "VIPs". Anyway, not that it means anything about Tulane or any of us, they were boozing, schmoozing, etc. They had bottles of wine, champagne, etc.
I'm not hating on him, I like the guy--he seems pretty laid back. But if he's really "trying to find which end is up" and "handling the situation as best as he can"...why isn't he meeting with people about updating us instead of having a three hour dinner/party w/ other tulane dudes?? I mean, if he's really as concerned as he says he is, couldn't he have at least feigned his distress??

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's probably an escape for him as he feels guilty living off of your $18000 tuition money that you paid for the 6 units you are taking at LSU for $2600.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Pamela Shaw said...

Message for Freeman students:
Please e-mail your name, year, e-mail address, phone number and fall plans. If you do not have fall plans or have questions, please go to
index.php?page=Home. Dean DeNisi is answering questions at this site. If you need help, please contact me and I will try to find the right person to help you. Best to all of you. Pamela Shaw (Accounting faculty member with Burkenroad Reports)

12:28 PM  
Anonymous a parent said...

Tulane University is a community. It is not a place, not a group of buildings and certainly not a business. It is a community of faculty, students and accomplished alumni. The protection, health and well being of the individuals who make up the Tulane community should be President Cowens primary focus.

As the devastation created by hurricane Katrina became apparent we waited for Scott Cowen to provide some direction to the students and families…but nothing came. Colleges and Universities across the country began to open their doors and offer us their support and assistance. Numerous schools offered free tuition and some even offered a limited number of spaces with free room and board. Other schools offered to waive admission requirements but we were told that we would have to pay tuition. Parents and students asked why hasn't the semester been canceled? We sat and watched in horror, as the situation in New Orleans grew worse by the minute. Why doesn't President Cowen say anything …what is he waiting for?

Families began to evaluate their options. They had to consider their own personal financial situation. Could they afford an apartment on short notice, in an expensive city, at a school where room and board wasn't available? Would the courses offered at a school be the right ones? Could they afford a school with full tuition when they had suffered their own losses as a result of hurricane Katrina? Could they afford to spend another $ 600 or $ 700 on books for the semester when the ones they had just purchased sat in New Orleans? Could they afford to buy a new computer as well as clothes, bedding, school supplies etc.? What would happen with the lease on their New Orleans apartment and the money they had just put down for first month, last month and a security deposit? Would they ever see that money again? The bills for the first trip to New Orleans still hadn't been paid. Now there were additional hotel and travel bills as a result of the evacuation. On top of that they would incur more expenses to take their son or daughter to a new school.

We all tried not to think about what this was costing us and to think only of our son or daughter. Our hearts ached for all they had lost. We knew that they were hurting mentally and emotionally. Most of us knew that the best thing for them was to enroll at a new school. Each of us made our own decision. Many of us didn’t know about Scott Cowens "visiting student" tuition scam until after we had already accepted a spot at a school. We thought we had financially committed to a certain arrangement only to find out that Cowen was trying to undo the good will freely offered by other schools.

Scott Cowen hasn't been thinking about the students or the families. He's been thinking about money. He's worried about saving Tulane. Well I have news for you President Cowen …Tulane is the community of people, the students, the faculty and the alumni. Worry about the money and you will end up with a bunch of empty buildings. Worry about Tulane's real assets -- THE PEOPLE -- and the school will live on forever.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The normal policy for study abroad and studying ("visiting") at other universities for 1 semester if nothing had happened would be that you would still be paying Tulane the full $18k because you are getting your degree from there and they are taking care of the process. Most universities in Europe for example are free or almost free, but you would still pay the full tuition if you CHOSE to do this. The issue here is that students didn't willingly ELECT to attend another school for the semester, regardless if that's what they are doing. That's why those who did should be given a choice whether they want to "donate" the difference between the in-state school's tuition and Tulane's to Tulane. This way at least Tulane will be respected in the eyes of the students AND I am sure will be able to obtain considerable funds. Same should be done with those who choose to work instead of attending school. In many cases, especially for seniors, it just doesn't make sense to attend another school since the classes they need to graduate are too specific. These students will need this money to attend Tulane for the extra semester they will need to complete now. There is an even bigger problem with this for those on scholarships since federal and state aid is usually only readily available for 8 semesters/4 years. These students will have a hard time obtaining aid to finish their education if the money is spent on this semester where no credits towards graduation are obtained.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I had a freshman at this school they would transfer out.

If I had a high school senior they would not apply to this school.

If the school rushes to open next semester I would have to think long and hard before I would let my child go back to that polluted mess. I would probably encourage them to wait til the next year when I could be more certain about the health risks.

Cowen doesn't care about any of this. He should be replaced by the administration.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The schools going to get a lot of applications when this tuition mess hits the front page of the newspapers. yeah right.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is he kidding ?

The needs of Tulane students remain a central priority as we work through these difficult days. Our students represent our greatest asset. I hope this matter has not caused additional worry or inconvenience in this already difficult time.

Scott Cowen

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was suprised to see Scott Cowan's post that he feels Tulane will open Spring Semester. I suppose he has no choice but to say that because if he doesn't thousands will start making plan to not come back to Tulane at all. It has cost us a considerable amount to replace my daughter's computer, some of her clothes and a week off work to decide what to do with her this semester. She is a freshman and enrolled at a large, public institution that hasn't asked me for a dime yet. She is sleeping in a converted lounge with three other Tulane students who don't have any belongins either. I didn't pay her tuition bill yet because it wasn't due until the 31st - I was surprised so many people already paid. This Hurricane has cost us plenty financially - all new books, new computer and clothes - and we didn't even pay our Tulane tuition. I am not in a position to pay tuition twice. I am also worried about the toxins/chemicals that will be lying on the ground in New Orleans if/when Tulane reopens.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can give our kids bottled water to drink but what about showering ......and breathing ?

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For us, the 12:47 post is awesome -- and sounds like exactly what we did i.e., major out of pocket expenses and no belongings and enrolling in a school who offered my displaced and very stressed out son free housing and tuition. This occurred on 8-31-05 and had nada to do with Dr. Cowen's 9-2-05 and current attempt to keep the tuition we paid to Tulane. And, we do not agree to his unilateral attempts to now keep our money.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading your letter at, I highly recommend that the University clarify that they will refund the difference, if one exists, between the out-of-pocket cost of Tulane tuition and the school that the displaced student is currently enrolled for this semester

While Tulane may desperately need the funds, it is unethical and possibly illegal to charge students Tulane's tuition while at a considerablly cheaper institution.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cowen is no fool...

This is a attempt to create a public outcry and hopefully get congress to pick-up the bill.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch how Cowen uses the phrase "largest private employer in New Orleans". He is trying to tie the survival of New Orleans with Tulane University.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

President Cowen states in his interview with the Chronicle on Higher Learning that "Tulane plans to keep tuition revenue that is has already received from its students for the fall." President Cowen says in his latest message that "[w]ithout fall '05 tuition revenue, we would find it difficult, if not impossible to reopen Tulane on schedule . . ." He goes on: "Let me be clear: No Tulane student will ultimately have to pay more than they would have if they were at Tulane for the fall semester."

Let me be clear, President Cowen: "The students are not at Tulane for the fall semester, enjoying small classes, prestigious faculty, and excellent resources." They have been displaced from Tulane due to circumstances beyond your control, but beyond theirs as well. Students are not enrolled at the university of their choice. Many are not enrolled in small classes, with prestigious faculty, and excellent resources. Tulane families are not Tulane's bank, and fall tuition is not an involuntary line of credit from Tulane families. That is what business loss insurance is for. What rate of interest will Tulane pay Tulane families for the use of their money to help Tulane reopen on schedule? Will they get any consideration for the involuntary use of their money?

Separate and apart from its decision to keep already-paid fall tuition, the university has still not announced a clear policy on whether it intends to charge students for a fall semester for not attending classes at Tulane.

The Tulane administration needs to seriously reconsider their financial policies on fall tuition if they hope to retain, or win back, the hearts of Tulane families.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the staff at Tulane is still getting paid and they want me to pay full tuition for the 1st semester, while my child is taking classes at a in-state school (her tuition there is under $4K for the semester)Why has no one called to act as her advisor - maybe make her think she is still in a private school .
No, Tulane wants the tuition and does not want to do any of the work!!!!!
At least pretend you are doing something while you are robbing us!!!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent who paid full tuition -- but NOT easily -- I am so surprised and so very disappointed with what someone else has poignantly termed Dr. Cowen’s “visiting student” scam. In order to try to keep our tuition while providing nothing, he is pretending that he is the reason why so many schools reached out to the displaced students. But, these schools were reaching out and showing their own good will to the students BEFORE Dr. Cowen came up with his “visiting student” scam. My son was to enter Tulane as a freshman this fall. And, Dr. Cowen’s presentation during the admitted students’ reception, this past summer, is the major reason for my having supported my son’s decision to choose Tulane over other schools. I could not be more disappointed in how he is treating the students who have suffered much financial loss and emotional upset during the past week.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The majority of your comments indicate a lack of indifference to the institution of Tulane and to the many people who make Tulane what it is - the faculty, the administrative staff, the maintenance and cafeteria workers, the grounds keepers and so many more. They have all suffered a major disaster, many losing their homes, their belongings, and possibly their livelihood. President Cowen's concern is for them as well as the students. His numerous posts address the need to continue payroll, to get as much of the school up and running as possible, and to continue such benefits as healthcare.

The majority of the students at Tulane returned, in many cases, to their very comfortable homes. Yes, they are displaced for a semester but they can continue their education and return in the spring with transferrable credits. President Cowen has also addressed the issue of students who are charged tuition at other institutions and stated that he intends to reimburse them. (Refer to his latest post) If you or your child continues your/their education, returns to Tulane and graduates on time, what are your major complaints? Look at the big picture. So many have lost so much, including, in some cases, their lives. Is it that important to be reimbursed money because tuition is less at the visiting institution? I am the parent of a child who does receive some financial aid, and we have worked very hard to pay the rest. I pray that her tuition this semester will help Tulane quickly recover and I am convinced she will receive her Tulane degree

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the parent willing to donate your tuition money to Tulane, your sentiments are laudable and that is your choice.

For my own personal and financial reasons, I do not make the same choice.

And, Tulane has no legal right to force me to do same.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was surprised to see that at least some people had not paid their tuition bill before the storm hit. Oh how I wish I was amongst them. That being the case, If Cowen thinks the financial burden of the storm should be borne equally by all students, then shouldn't these students be billed for their share of what amounts to a special ascessment?

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the parent who is willing to donate the tuiton $$ to Tulane - How do we get the Donation paperwork from Tulane for our Taxes? It would be nice to be able to write off the amount they are stealing from us!

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great idea!!

Does anyone know the mailing address of the Tulane Houston office?

1) Send a certified letter to the Tulane Houston campus announcing your intent not to return for the Fall '05 semester prior to the published September 13 deadline. Ask for any tuition money to be returned per the catalog which is a legal document. It doesn't matter that classes have not or will not begin this fall. You are following the current catalog/contract that as of this date has not been changed.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tulane Houston address?

1700 West Loop South, Suite 900, Houston, Texas 77027.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had three lawyers look over Scott Cowens statement of 9/2/05 and was advised as to what to do. (They were all 3 in agreement) Get legal advice.
They also said the policy would create ill-will

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you going to do?

I had three lawyers look over Scott Cowens statement of 9/2/05 and was advised as to what to do. (They were all 3 in agreement) Get legal advice.
They also said the policy would create ill-will

3:06 PM

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that Brett Hymann's blog, which started out as a source of support for Tulane and Tulane students, has turned into a way to undermine and destroy that same University. And only a week has passed!!! Oh, the power of money!

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes - The power of money! Look what it has done to Scott Cowen.

My child would like to return to Tulane - but it will be a financial decision - if Tulane takes money from us that is not theirs, after all the unforeseen expenses we have had related to the hurricane - she will not be able to return. That simple!

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tulane is done without fall tuition money. The endowment is embarrassingly low compared to other Top 50 institutions. Cowen is scarmbling to avoid a massive pull-out, but it's starting to happen already. The Board needs to replace Cowen, refund all tuition and room/board money and close the institution for the near future. It's going to happen eventually, but you are just being strung along by a desperate administration. If someone snapped their fingers and tomorrow NOLA was read to be inhabited, would you take your chance of moving back in only to find 10 years down the line those nasty toxins will carry a serious health effect on your life? I don't think so. Cut your losses, Dr. Cowen...if you do it now you might still be able to be hailed as a hero and get a few more shots on The Today Show. Otherwise you'll be remembered as the Herbert Hoover of University Presidents - a smart man with no clue how to manage.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Tulane decides to keep the tuition than it will end up hurting them way more than Katrina ever did. Many of my fellow students(including myself) will either officially transfer to our current universities or transfer to others if Tulane does not offer a full refund. Furthermore, Tulane will lose more than that trying to pay for all the attorneys they will need to defend them from the tons of angry parents suing to get their money back, and Tulane will end up having to return the tuition anyway. I beleive the decision whether or not to keep the tuition will determine if Tulane will ever be the university it once was.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My neighbor just stopped in - her daughter is a senior at a small private TOP girls high school. The college counselor told them "Girls with the low SAT's - This is your chance to get into a top college, contact Tulane."

This is so SAD!!! What are we trying to save?

4:17 PM  
Anonymous Parent Too said...

"A parent said.." at 12:47 spoke for us and I'm sure a lot of parents. Thank You. We and our daughter experienced the same things. Our daughter is a senior and she waited in line at 7:30 a.m on Tuesday morning to enroll in a school.

Thank you Scott Cowen for waiting until the Friday evening before a holiday weekend to make your announcement.

As you all know it is very difficult to make decisions at a such a stressful time for the student and our country. She was having trouble sleeping. But now that has she begged to get into classes she needed for her major she is better. And after all isn't that what we all want for our children.
And please don't discount what our children are going through because they haven't experienced the terrible losses of others in NO. They are experiencing their own loss.

There is quite a bit of advice from individuals. Would one voice be more effective?

And to the poster who said " Oh the power of money?" Are you making the $15,000 donation to Tulane?

4:18 PM  
Blogger Kelly Gaus said...

Just so that we're all clear on this: I think it's awful that a lot of people are paying Tulane tuition for either half-time study or sub-Tulane study, but on the other hand, Tulane's endowment -- that $600 million -- is actually really, really small for a school Tulane's size. So it's really a very hard question for Tulane: they wouldn't just take a bit of a hit from losing our tuition for a semester, rather losing it would be financially disastrous. Of course, in the long run, the policy may just drive students away, rather than get more students (and their money), but it should still be noted that although the endowment sounds big to all of us, it really isn't.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just wondering...what is the purpose of the endowment...if NOT to be used in extreme unforseen circumstances like this...?

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the right to survive give Scott Cowen the right to take advantage of the students and parents of Tulane University? Looters ransacked New Orleans when they had to ...isn't that what Cowen is now doing to us? Cowen is stealing from us because he feels it is justified.

Look at the generosity of the people of Houston and all around the country. He should have immediately refunded the tuition. Then let the community save Tulane and show the world what the school and the Tulane community are made of. Instead he is alienating the very people he needs right now in a misguided attempt to survive .

Let the colleges and universities who took our children give the tuition back to Tulane. Let the parents and families who ended up paying less give some back to the school. Give us the opportunity to show our support .....don't make up some visiting tuition scam to steal from us.

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And wouldn't it be better for the school's good will -- and likelihood of getting more money for their endowment -- if they go into their $6 million (small) endowment now, instead of trying to keep students' tuition moneys when they are not providing any educational services?

4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TULANE...stick a fork in it. It's over.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Dr. Cowen and Tulane: PLEASE you need not to do this for a second longer. You are destroying the greatest asset you have -- the people who made up the community.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey 5:00 post, are you trying to make a statement or did you mean to fuck up that saying.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you payed your Tulane tuition and are going to another school, you are still at Tulane student, getting credits for a Tulane degree and diploma therefore you should pay Tulane prices, even if you are going to a state school whos tuition is less than what I payed for my meal plan at Tulane. It was just posted on that if you dont enroll in a school this semsester everything will roll over to the spring and if you're not coming back in the spring then you'll get a full refund. And they only talked about tuition, not room and board, I have a feeling those will roll over to next semester.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The endowment is what you "save for a rainy day." Well, now is the rainy day. I don't have a business degree, all I know about business I learned from reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People," but I have thought all along that Tulane, a wonderful institution stuck in a life-threatening situation, had to make a difficult choice that it failed to make. It had to announce loudly and clearly and as publicly as possible that as soon as was feasible, all students would be made economically whole, either through education at a comparable school (that is what my daughter is doing) or a pro rata refund. If Tulane doesn't change course and do that right away, its most important asset, its goodwill, might be jeopardized.

As for those computers: we should join together and get the computer companies to give all Katrina affected college students who had to abandon their computers new one.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 5:25 some dumbo wrote this...

"If you payed (sic) your Tulane tuition and are going to another school, you are still at (sic) Tulane student, getting credits for a Tulane degree and diploma therefore you should pay Tulane prices, even if you are going to a state school whos (sic)tuition is less than what I payed (sic) for my meal plan at Tulane."

So if you go to summer school at your local state university to take some GE coursework you should pay Tulane tuition? Or should you pay Tulane tuition for Tulane to accept AP and IB scores. Geez, get with it bozo.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This person is right. That's the policy for "visiting for a semester at another school" whether in the US or abroad at any US university. Works same as study abroad programs. They basically reserve the right because in the end you are getting a degree from Tulane, not any other school. It's not the same as summer school where only a very limited number of classes are allowed for transfer if they're taken outside the university and not through any of the university's programs.

The difference here is that students did not CHOOSE to go this route. So they should be given more options of how to handle their money.

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In case you haven't heard, the Tulane football team will be staying on the campus of La Tech and attending classes here. La Tech is on the quarter system but their hours are semester hours. I spoke with one of the deans today, and he said that Tulane plans to repay the colleges their "waived" tuition. Lets hope that the tuition not reimbursed (if any) will apply to the spring semester. I sure hope there's light at the end of this tunnel!

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So if our child is enrolled in another university should we immediately pull them out so our tuition will roll to spring semester? My daughter is a freshman and has enough AP credits for a full semester, so it would be feasible in her case.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the difference here is definitely the lack of choice.

Moreover, we made the decision for my son to attend another school BEFORE there was any "visiting student tuition policy." IF, for one moment, we had been told that attending classes at another school would cost us the tuition we paid to Tulane (and hoped to use at Tulane for the spring 2006 tuition), we would have made a different choice then.

My son would rather have the current courses he is now taking NOT count toward anything at Tulane instead of paying Tulane for what he is doing now.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since some of these unanswered questions are preventing some students from making a decision, it would be helpful if Dr. Cowen could address the following more specifically--if the tuition at the transient college is less, will the student be refunded the difference? If the tuition is more, the student would owe more, correct? If the transient college chooses to remit the funds to Tulane, all the better; but that decision will vary with each institution. Many students enrolled and made agreements with these various institutions before there was any policy in place by Tulane and before any recommendations from the various National boards were published. Our Son was one of those students. We felt incredible pressure to help him make a good decision in a short amount of time because we did not want him to "loose a semester". We are also incredibly grateful we had so many choices, but would still appreciate knowing the answers to these questions as well...

6:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and following up to our comment just now--our Son loves Tulane and New Orleans and we do as well!

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

they already announced that they would reimburse us you dork...

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that dork is as dork does. Cowen has been very good a avoiding the issue of reimbursement of the tuition difference from a lower cost institution. Unsurprisingly you are half right in saying that Tulane has stated they will reimburse cost above the Tulane tuition.

Dork on!

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, please go read the Tulane website and wait for the rest of the answers to the questions. These people are not stupid and are the leaders of your chosen institution of higher learning. They ask for your patience, give them the courtesy of their request. When was the last time you showed any grace under fire. They sincerely appear to be doing the best they can with what they have to work the same!

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

File a dispute with your credit card company if you paid any fees with a credit card. Tulane cannot tie in your Tulane tuition with the intended trade-off of tuition at another institution. In other words - if you paid Tulane for tuition and coursework was taken elsewhere because Tulane could not offer courses, you are entitled to a refund from Tulane. By doing so you are not withdrawing, taking a leave, dropping are simply not paying for a product that is not being offered.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is anyone else withdrawing? If so, what procedure are you using? Thanks...

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to a state school that is treating me like an incoming freshman. For me this means that i will not be using any of fall tulane money. I hope this means that i will be credited, and not have to pay my loans.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent -

Tulane needs to be fair and reasonable with its tuition policies. We all paid for what Tulane CANNOT deliver for the Fall of 2005. We can ALL send WITHDRAWL NOTICIES BY SEPTEMBER 13th - ALL OF US - but Tulane has NO University to offer our children for the Fall. What address do we use??

Tulane will be financially BETTER off to refund the tuition for the Fall term - fair is fair - timely and honest - and build good will and encourage parents for the future Tulane students - Many of us worked for decades to send our kids to Tulane - and MUST have the money back. We paid for an education at Tulane with Tulane standards for a specific term. Tulane cannot deliver the education. The Tulane President cancelled classes last week. Our kids would like to come back. Tulane could not educate. We paid so Tulane needs to refund without "politics" and "spin." Hey - if we want "spin" we have many othe roptions. We want straight forward integrity. We paid for the FALL 2005 TRM education - not for Spring 2006 not for 2007, 8, or 9. If this is a New York times and other high profile piece, Scott Cowen and our beloved university LOSES BIG TIME.

Be fair and simple and straight forward - and win.

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you look at the Loyola New Orleans website and compare it to the Tulane website I think you can see part of the problem people have with Tulane. Loyola is actively taking care of its students, registering them, making sure they have a place to go, even showing pictures of their campus. I think the main problem here is that Tulane just isn't communicating to the Freshman and their parents that they care about the students or have a clue about how to proceed before making a big money grab. Of course people are freaking out, this is a students future and big decisions need to be made. If I felt that Tulane was actively taking care of students future instaed of leaving them hanging and guessing then I might not mind the tuition grab. However I feel they don't realize the bad impression they have left us with their delayed response.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use the Tulane's Houston campus address. Tulane has indicated that they are now operating in Houston so there cannot be a question about sending your documentation to the wrong address. No court will buy the fact that you should have used the NOLA address when mail service obviously is non-existent. Any bets on when the first lawsuit will be filed? I say within a week - it will come from an incoming freshman parent out of Texas. Stay tuned!

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Imagine if you were a faculty or staff member and were concerned about not getting your due pay check?!

There are a lot of priorities that Tulane University is trying to sort through...I believe they are trying their very best considering the circumstances.

Tulane will be MORE than FAIR in regards to this issue of credits and tuition.

I am sure the Tulane Administration has thought of the giant headaches ahead if they aren't: a lawyer's never-ending dream...

For those of us that are familiar with Tulane and New Orleans, we all joked that this could happen, but we never thought it would happen to us. Considering Katrina was a 4 and the levees were built to withstand a 3, I think we are pretty lucky.

I'm just bothered by the fact that Tulane University, New Orleans, the State of Louisiana, and Washington were not more prepared to handle a situation like this - last year - a decade ago - fifty years ago, etc.

One cannot prevent the weather, but one can certainly prepare.

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


President Cowen states in his interview with the Chronicle on Higher Learning that "Tulane plans to keep tuition revenue that is has already received from its students for the fall." President Cowen says in his latest message that "[w]ithout fall '05 tuition revenue, we would find it difficult, if not impossible to reopen Tulane on schedule . . ." He goes on: "Let me be clear: No Tulane student will ultimately have to pay more than they would have if they were at Tulane for the fall semester."

Let me be clear, President Cowen: "The students are not at Tulane for the fall semester, enjoying small classes, prestigious faculty, and excellent resources." They have been displaced from Tulane due to circumstances beyond your control, but beyond theirs as well. Students are not enrolled at the university of their choice. Many are not enrolled in small classes, with prestigious faculty, and excellent resources. Tulane families are not Tulane's bank, and fall tuition is not an involuntary line of credit from Tulane families. That is what business loss insurance is for. What rate of interest will Tulane pay Tulane families for the use of their money to help Tulane reopen on schedule? Will they get any consideration for the involuntary use of their money?

Separate and apart from its decision to keep already-paid fall tuition, the university has still not announced a clear policy on whether it intends to charge students for a fall semester for not attending classes at Tulane.

The Tulane administration needs to seriously reconsider their financial policies on fall tuition if they hope to retain, or win back, the hearts of Tulane families.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Tulane parent myself and I work hard to put my son through school. I am glad the administration has started to answer some of the questions about tuition. But in the face of uncertainty I am also trying to set an example for my child-- to teach him that recovering from tragedy requires understanding, character and a little faith in each other. Anger is natural, but accusations, distrust and blame are counterproductive. The univeristy has started to answer our questions and has asked for more time to respond comprehensively. Consider giving it to them-- patience is a small contribution towards recovery. Besides, in the end, no one is really out to "steal" your money anyway...

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm an academic administrator (NOT at Tulane) but have followed this blog for many reasons, one being I am now seeing some students from the effected areas. I have some thoughts on the topics here:

STUDENT LOANS: someone expressed a concern about paying for them if not in school. If I'm not mistaken, you are no longer eligible for them if not in school (considering you're not a STUDENT right now and all ;) - and the bank/Sallie Mae/whoever shouldn't even issue it. Contact them and have it stopped from that end, if possible.

VISITING STUDENTS:(this may be more of a definition in higher education terms or translation of them, that may provide some clarity). Typically, visiting students are those whose home school has an agreement with the new school - usually a "we'll send you 1 of ours if you send us 1 of yours" kind of thing. Each student pays their own school, per usual, and it's a nice little opportunity for students to have a different experience in the US (we saw lots of interest in this after 9/11).

However, what is happening now is, in 99.9% of the cases, NOT a typcial visiting student arrangement (I suppose it's possible that a TU student had planned this type of thing already - but that is clearly the minority, if at all). Usually, when a student is taking classes elsewhere (not in the summer) and plans to return to their home school, they are referred to as "non-degree seeking students", meaning you don't plan on getting a degree from this new, temporary school. Until you apply thru formal admissions procedures, you are *usually* not a degree seeking student. Many students are either withdrawn or on a leave of absence from their home school when they are non-degree seeking elsewhere. My guess is that some of the discrepancy on how much students are being charged at other schools, etc is based on the degree to which the admissions process evolves at this point, and how they are "labeled" at each school. My first thought is all TU students would be non-degree seeking, but the statement issued last week by various Higher Educ Organizations, etc, muddies those waters somewhat. Personally and Professionally - I'd WD and get my money back - and pay the less expensive school their fees only. To me, it's only fair to pay for what you are getting and exercise your personal option for "donations" separately.

Additionally, Cowens latest statement/FAQ says that if you WD, you will need to reapply. This seems somewhat "threatening" to me - like leave us now, and you may never have another chance. Not only does that seem very unfair to me, but unrealistic. But if recruitment will the challenge we all think it will be, than student with a decent TU GPA may find this a pretty safe bet.

ENDOWMENTS: As someone stated - they are for rainy days - however, endowments also are a HUGE factor in all those college rankings we see (quite possibly the most important factor). US NEWS uses that, Alumni Giving, admissions standards and a few other factors (class size, PhDs on Faculty, etc) to rank schools. I understand the administrations reluctancy to leave that money alone, as it will have ramifications farther in to the future (or until people stop pating so much attention to those rankings - considering they hardly account for the actual student experience, but now I'm just on a personal rant!) - however, I don't think it's wise to withhold current tuition when a refund is requested. It's classic rock-hardspot scenario, and one I am very glad I don't have to decide.

INFORMATION FLOW: While I know there are many constituencies to consider as the president, I am frankly shocked that the tuition topic has been danced around so much. Clearly you all won't let that go on much longer, and Cowen must know that. And while I do feel they will eventually "do the right thing", as each day goes by w/o a clear policy, the hole just gets deeper for him - and hope for his and your sakes, that is rectified immediately.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - that should read:
...I understand the administrations DESIRE to leave that money alone, as it will have ramifications farther in to the future...

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To heck with rankings...if the endowment drops too low, Tulane can risk their accreditation. If that happens you can use your $100,000 degree as a fly swatter.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous S Mann said...

Some TU schools have websites operating showing the temporary universities of their students. Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, IIT, others are among them. If you choose to go to school this semester, you are still a Tulane student, receiving Tulane credit, and paying Tulane tuition . . . it does not matter what the tuition at the visited school is. So, pick a challenging one if you can.

If you choose not to go to school this semester and return to Tulane in the spring (assuming it is open), then your fall tuition will be credited towards your spring tuition.

If you choose to enroll as a regular student elsewhere, your Tulane tuition will eventually be refunded.

If you paid your Tulane tuition but have been reauired to pay again at the visited institution, it is probably because you can't prove you've paid Tulane. (Remember, all the banking systems are down in NO).
It should all get resolved once financial communications are reestablished.

All of the above is what I gather from Scott Cowen's postings and from talks with others. Its logical. Cowen has promised a detailed tuition FAQ ASAP.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Tulane had insurance? Surely they weren't stupid enough to self insure.

10:50 PM  
Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:39 PM  
Blogger anonymous said...

Doesn't the tuition answer seem obvious to anyone else??? President Cowen made this so-called deal with the other AAU schools to have them remit tuition back to Tulane in order for the school to maintain itself and re-open in the spring. I see no reason why we should pay full Tulane tuition at schools that charge less. Have the school you are visiting remit THEIR NORMAL TUITION AMOUNT, whether it be less than Tulane or not, back to Tulane if they choose to do so. If the school charges the same tuition amount as Tulane, then Tulane will get the same tuition amount back.

Accordingly, to make up for the difference between what tuition intake will be for this semester, and what it would have been had the semester gone as planned, Cowen has his endowment fund to make up the difference. The fund will not be completely drained, and we will not be forced to pay full tuition where full tuition isn't due. Pay the amount that matches the education you are receiving for the semester!!!

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could the person who stated that they talked to 3 lawyers please tell us what they recommended? Thank you in advance.

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the person that spoke to the lawyers. I would tell you what I was advised to do, but each situation is different

-The school year your child is in –a freshman is very different from a senior
-Is there financial aid, scholarships involved
-Have you paid Tulane all, some or none of the fall tuition
-When (before or after the statement of 9/2) you contracted w/ the school your child is currently in and the agreement YOU have with that school.
-Your child’s feelings about returning to Tulane

I would not want to misdirect you and therefore suggest that you get legal advice. We as parents must find a balance between (1) protecting ourselves financially and (2) protecting the emotional aspects and dreams of our children.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to do a survey on how many parents will be sending the Tulane Spring Tuition early?

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it would be helpful if the answers to these questions could be posted before 5pm on Sept 12th (as it happens to coincide with being just past the overnight mail deadline for the 13th withdrawal date, if that is still a concrete date).

We have certainly tried to keep a positive attitude and appreciate all the complexities of the situation. These blogs are showing the situation spiraling out of control. It can be reigned back in if Dr. Cowen answers these concerns today (before the discussion this evening).

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a parent of a Tulane Freshman and an Alumni. I also work in the IT department of a firm that used to be in the World Trade Center. When our offices were lost 4 years ago Sunday, all of our technology resources were back up to their original state and working in less than 3 days because WE HAD A DISASTER RECOVERY PLAN! Even Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 60% of its workforce (they were dead, not scattered around the country) was back up and working in that same time period. Most major businesses also have Business Interruption Insurance so that their employees can be paid and cared for in the event of a disaster when their might not be income coming in. Did Tulane have any of this insurance, or are they depending on either the parents or the government to bail them out?

Where was Tulane’s disaster recovery plan? So far it has consisted of a one page web site with the theme ‘we’re thinking about what to do, we’ll get back to you’. This is totally unacceptable for any business, much less one of this size and importance to not only the Tulane community, but to New Orleans.

Scott Cowen said in his speech on Saturday afternoon of “Freshman Moving-In Day” at McAlister that “. . . I didn’t get to be a university President because I was dumb or naïve.” To not have a disaster recovery plan, at least for their technology infrastructure is ‘dumb’. It is ‘naïve’ to not expect that a hurricane could do serious damage to the City of New Orleans and possibly the University itself, especially after the Times-Picayune series “Washing Away” published 3 years ago warned of this exact scenario.

Did Scott Cowen and the administration of Tulane University depend on the resources of the City of New Orleans, the State of Louisiana and FEMA to rescue and care for the University the same way the poor people of New Orleans depended on those same government entities to rescue and care for them? Aren’t Scott Cowen and the Tulane administration smarter than those people? If not, why are they running the University? It appears to me the administration of the University has acted no better, and no smarter than Ray Nagin, Kathleen Blanco or FEMA Director Michael Brown.

On Saturday 27-August when I left McAlister after Cowen’s speech, I believed in Cowen and the University. Since Katrina hit, my faith in them has gone down to the point where I believe if they don’t act quickly and decisively to resolve, or at least to definitively decide on how to handle the issues surrounding the continuing operations of the University, I would no longer want to send my child to Tulane, nor would I continue to endow it with my financial contributions in the future. I would also be embarrassed to call myself a Tulane Alumni.

All of the above is ignoring the fact that I’m unsure that I would send my child back into a city when I would be concerned about the long term health effects of living there, and the distinct possibility that at any moment, another hurricane could permanently damage New Orleans already fragile infrastructure.

A word to Brett – This is a good blog, and Cowen has said he’s reading it. I AM JUDGING SCOTT COWEN AND THE ADMINISTRATION. I believe I have a right to as do others with ‘interests’. I have various ‘interests’ in the university. One is financial (about $20,000 right now), which I personally can’t afford to lose, but I could eventually recover from. The more important ‘interest’ is my faith in the leaders of Tulane and their ability to manage the school in the future and have it maintain the prestige that it has attained. The leaders of the university need to be judged, because if we don’t, others will. And they will vote with their feet and leave and never come back.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who said that Tulane's Endowment is so low, do you consider the neighborhood of 800 Million dollars (as of now) LOW? I realize that's not in line with some other major Universities, but it's nothing to sneeze at either. Combined with insurance settlements (they MUST have had catastrophic financial disruption insurance or they're complete idiots), property insurance, Federal money that is SURE to come their way (Congress just passed TWO aid bills that are going to give money away by the bucket-load, with little or NO accountability), their current Endowment Fund drive (estimated to push the endowment well over $1 Billion) and Alums who are going to contribute out of their ying-yangs to the disaster fund, yes folks, I'm CRAZY enough to say that Tulane might actually come out of this better off financialy than they were going IN. THINK about it!
Scott Cowen, saying that Tulane is in dire financial straights is ludicrous. They WILL BE in dire financial straights however if they continue this money grab and repulse every Freshman and future recruit.
I'm SOOO glad I hadn't paid my tuition bill before all this crap hit the fan. I'll reserve judgment as to whether to return to Tulane for my Senior year until they get this mess straightened out. Having a degree from Tulane may not be as admired as it once was if things aren't handled better.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

idea: If your going to a state school w/ tuition much lower than tulane, couldn't you just pay the school the $2,000 and then you tulane tuition can roll over to the spring.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

University of Maryland, agreed to waive tuition for displaced students attending state of Maryland institutions.

Bowie State even paid for books. I am not sure whether this will apply to room and board. Though I do understand they made sure any displaced freshman got into rooms on campus.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, Tulane is closed for the semester. Whatever you paid for is not happening. Some new arrangement needs to be made.

So far we know that if your student doesn't attend classes, you get a full tuition credit. If your student only takes a partial load, you will get a partial credit (this was stated in the chat). Further details will be given Monday. If you don't agree w. them, you have 2 weeks to withdraw your child and get ALL of your money back. I am not sure what people want...the university is not going to negotiate new arrangements with 13,000 families based on their individual circumstances. You have the right to get 100% of your money back if you feel the new arrangements are unfair. But you are NOT going to get free tuition, a semester of transfer credits and continued enrollment at Tulane. Face it, this IS a difficult situation, any resolution will be imperfect and may involve hard choices. But ultimately those choices are yours.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes the option is ours. The issue however is one of trust and risk. We the students are being asked to TRUST that our credits will transfer and that consideration will be given that each and every course we take will satisfy the requirements for graduation at an institution that traditionally has been very picky about these issues. We also are taking ALL the risks including the risk that we could be paying FULL TUITION for only partial credits; that the University will reopen; that it will be safe and that suitable living condition will exist in Jan. I want to graduate from Tulane in the spring! The policy with the first difficult issue-tuition-is simply UNFAIR. Why would I assume FUTURE DECISIONS AND POLICIES WILL BE ANY DIFFERENT! I have no clothes, no car, am two weeks behind in my classes. I am trying to stay on course! Dr. Cowen stated that we are getting an education in life yesterday. Should Tulane at this point in time be giving this harsh lesson! If Im wrong in my assessment I will listen but apparently many feel as I do. I want to work with the university and wish to support it! I need to be treated fairly!

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pres. Cowen said on the chat last night that now NOLA would be safe, implying that now evacuated hardened criminals were the only threat. But, who is going to protect students from the cops? Tues-Thurs they prey on students and make comments about their "rich daddies?" News reports (Washington Post) say residents heard bombs that caused the levee to break. This was done in order to save uptown at the expense of poorer neighborhoods. However, they used too much dynamite and destroyed the water system for uptown, too. Sorry, but NOLA has some big hurdles to jump before we send ours back to Tulane. Perhaps Tulane can use their political capital to help them along.

6:03 PM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

For the people who want something other than cheerleading for Tulane and Cowen. See

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am going to restrict myself to a few salient issues --

First, there is the issue of leadership. Somewhere in Houston there is, presumably, a leadership team running Tulane University in crisis mode. I am not privy to all on the that team; one would hope, indeed expect, that the interests of faculty, staff, alumni are well-respresented.

There is no reason to believe, or expect, direct student involvement. Perhaps that is why student interests have played a subordinate role. The leadership is, understandably, loyal to the institution. No one should be confused about that.

So, let's cut through the BS, concede as much, and focus on what it means to be a leader in a crisis, in survival mode.

Simply put, one can choose to lead from executive fiat, "My way or the highway", and rationalize almost any decision as necessary for survival.

Or, one can lead by building consensus, by first building (or sustaining) a community of trust, agreeing on a set of guiding principles, and setting achievable goals that do not compromise those principles.

Guess which way gets my vote?

Myself, I don't know Dr. Cowen personally. I think many of the comments posted here unduly harsh, probably the result of confusion, frustration, mistrust, ill-will.

I won't judge the man as a person. In fact, I'll take your word that he is a great guy.

That said, there is no reasonable excuse that, going on two weeks now, he has failed to communicate clearly with the student/parent community.

Though many of the questions are specific, they are not terribly "complex". They deserve, at the least, a clear, direct response -- a guiding set of principles easy to communicate and understand.

Instead, the communications have been clear as mud. And the excuse is give us time. Give us your trust.

Which is the second issue, that of trust.

Trust the leadership team to make decisions which factor in safety? Except, one thinks back to the mailing from the summer which placed responsibility for one's evacuation plan squarely on the student/parents to do what they need to do. And how was this supported? By holding back students involved as OC's? By sending stranded students into the expected path of the hurricane? By stalling basic decisions -- whether to evacuate, whether to suspend classes, whether to cancel the term -- favoring economic consequences over those of safety?

Trust the leadership to make decisions which factor in student financial hardship? Except, the very first inkling of a policy communicated to student/parents is a link to a flawed, selfish, unfair, unenforceable statement crafted by an interest group. Again, economic self-interest puts student/parents last.

How far outside the box, really, how difficult would it be to imagine, looking for generous voluntary financial support -- from alumni, from corporations, from other institutions, and even from student/parents willing and able?

Instead, reap the ill-will generated by a confiscatory proposal. The lipstick on this pig? "Trust us" to be fair (even as we cannot be timely, or straightforward).

Last, what is with trying to treat parents' concerns as if they are separate from students' concerns? Or, for that matter, as if they are separate from the University's?

No parent gains by sending their student to a failed isntitution, nor by contributing to its failure. Doesn't the University need students' parents on its side?

Few students are independent of their parents to the extent that they do not share, or care, of the financial sacrifices made to put them through school. Does the University gain by placing additional burdens on student/parent relationships, often complex enough under the best of circumstances?

These students/parents, after all, are the future alumni/friends which support a University and make it vital.

Treating them like an unwanted stepchild, mis-informing or under-informing them -- I just don't see why that has to be the case.

Time is running out. Life goes on. Tulane is not the center of the universe. Time to step up, Dr. Cowen, and earn that paycheck.


6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Pres. Cowen said on the chat last night that now NOLA would be safe, implying that now evacuated hardened criminals were the only threat. But, who is going to protect students from the cops? Tues-Thurs they prey on students and make comments about their "rich daddies?" News reports (Washington Post) say residents heard bombs that caused the levee to break. This was done in order to save uptown at the expense of poorer neighborhoods. However, they used too much dynamite and destroyed the water system for uptown, too. Sorry, but NOLA has some big hurdles to jump before we send ours back to Tulane. Perhaps Tulane can use their political capital to help them along.

I didn't know Oliver Stone was reading this blog.

8:44 PM  
Blogger RealityCheck said...

Here are some issues to ponder:

1. Normally, detailed planning for the Spring Semester starts as soon as Fall Semester is underway. Things like what Professors and teaching assistants will be there for planning of sections of classes. What classrooms are available and how many students can they hold? Normal non-trivial planning like that. Is the administration planning these things now, or are they still tied up with the more macro issues, like how the University can open and survive?
2. Cowen has said there will be a Spring Semester. It was due to start the middle of January 2006 and ends the beginning of May. Are those timelines still in effect? Can they get the issues, both micro and macro resolved in time for a mid January opening? Will the Spring Semester be pushed back? Pushed back to when? When will it end? How will a later ending, perhaps the middle of June effect student’s ability to get internships and jobs during the summer?
3. Big assumption here, but I’ll make it for argument’s sake. Let’s say we get back all of our professors and TA’s so a full schedule of classes can be offered. Let’s also say all of the students in the dorms move back in, all classrooms were unharmed, and all students living off campus have apartments to move back to. They may have some flood damage, but nothing that hasn’t happened before.
1. There are THOUSANDS of staff at the school including secretarial, administrative, maintenance, security and food service that need to staff positions at the school. ALMOST ALL OF THIS STAFF IS LIVING ELSEWHERE RIGHT NOW, AND MAY NOT COME BACK TO NEW ORLEANS. How is the school going to run without people to man the food services? Many of these people had their homes destroyed and probably won’t be coming back to the City. Is Sohodex going to bring new people in from the outside? Where are they going to house them? The same can be said for the other staff positions? Any thoughts here?
4. Given the above issues, where will the administrations priorities lie? Continuing with their nationally recognized research? Providing staff and resources for Grad students? Seniors and Juniors before Sophomores and Freshman? On campus students before off campus students? Recruiting for the Class of 2010? Addressing the safety issues from the toxicity that currently exists in the City? Complaining that Commander’s Palace hasn’t reopened yet? Getting the professors to focus on research and teaching rather than trying to rebuild their homes? Whether it is prudent for the baseball team to practice on toxic dust or make sure the infield hasn’t died out because of the flooding?
5. Will the administration learn from their lack of disaster planning and work on implementing new policies, processes and procedures to prevent this from happening again? Right now the levees are in the same shape they were before the hurricane. We are one hurricane away from this happening again. I know the weather can’t be prevented, but can the administration at least admit that they screwed up their response to Katrina, and outline a plan to do better next time? Or should we ask Nagin, Blanco and Brown to plan our disaster recovery?

9:40 AM  
Anonymous CNN producer said...


I am a producer with CNN looking to speak with parents who are upset about tulane's policy toward tuition reinbursement. What are your concerns about sending your son/daugher to another university. Im also looking to speak with students who have been displaced. Please get in contact with me ASAP if you can give me some more background into this issue and share your story.

Hana Karar
CNN Washington

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Marta said...

$18,000 dollars is a lot of money, but it is a small price to pay for the school we love.

Without it, Tulane wouldn't survive.

How much more can we stand to lose in New Orleans?

11:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post was on the other thread in case anyone missed it :
CNN producer said...

I am a producer with CNN looking to speak with parents who are upset about tulane's policy toward tuition reinbursement. What are your concerns about sending your son/daugher to another university. Im also looking to speak with students who have been displaced. Please get in contact with me ASAP if you can give me some more background into this issue and share your story.

Hana Karar
CNN Washington

10:19 AM

11:49 AM  
Anonymous C. Graham said...

Why is everyone on this blog anonymous?

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

This is certainly a sensitive issue and Brett, I thank you for creating a space in which issues like these can be talked about.

I just had a few things to say:

First is, Tulane did an amazing job protecting its own students! Maybe they didn't have a disaster recovery plan but they did have a plan to get those of us on campus out of there and feed and taken care of. I am a grad student who lives/lived on the downtown campus. I do not have a car and would nothave been able to leave NOLA of my own accord. Tulane bused us out, gave us a place to stay, fed us, and kept us as informed as anyone could possibly be in that situation. I don't think anyone else in any other shelter had it as good as we did! Thank you Tulane!

Second, Scott Cowen is not GOD, nor is anyone else in Tulane leadership (FEMA isnt either by the way but thats another can of worms). I feel like people have forgotten that these are people who had homes and families in NOLA. They had to take care of themselves and their families as well. Sure, Ihave been as frusturated as anyone about the money and financial aid, but this is unprecedented and the issue is huge and complex. They have done their best and I doubt anyone else could have done much better in this situation.

As far as tuition goes, I believe it will be figured out in time. I think that if a student wants their credits to transfer to Tulane, then Tulane has a right to charge us for the credits. On the other hand, we are not using the rec center or computers and therefore I do not beleive we should be charged for those services, but I am confident Tulane will be incredibly reasonable if we are patient.

There are many schools not charging ANY tuition, and there is housing available for people in those communities, some of it is even free. I have managed to find a situation that financially is even better than if I attended fall semester at Tulane, but I did a lot of research and contacted many people rather than bitching. If you are worried about housing in a community check out the following sites:

there are ways to get around these issues if you take it into your own hands and be proactive rather than deferring responsibility (even if responsibility is justifiable someone else's)and trying to get someone else to fix it for you.

A bit extreme I know and maybe my situation is unique, but I am pretty confident that it is not. I know of many people who are making this work fine.

Good luck to everyone, and I hope to see many of you on campus in the spring!

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question that Scott Cowen did not address?

What if the current school is providing less services, and likewise costs less? Plus there may be significant additional costs such as commuting, food, etc. Can we simply pay what we are getting now and receive a refund from Tulane. We need to take an additional job to pay for Tulane as it is.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For our family it isn't a matter of "trusting Tulane" to do the right thing. We have to protect ourselves. We don't have the luxury of having the resources to pay Tulane and pay another institution this semester. On top of all the unforseen expenses this has cost us (our child is a Tulane freshman) her Dad and I have both taken a week off work to get her out of Tulane, pick her up from Jackson State and subsequently enroll and drive her to another public institution two hours from our home. To date that has cost us $5K, money we would not have had to spend had we paid our Tulane tuition this fall. If we have to pay Tulane the difference n her tuition she will not be returning, not because she doesn't want to be there but the cost is too high. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone at Tulane is rich.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My concern is hearing that all courses taken at host universities will be recorded as pass/fail on Tulane transcripts. I understand the problem with translating letter grades; but a semester of pass/fail grades is not equal to a semester of letter grades and I can't see it being worth $18,000 (particularly when they are taken at an institution that would normally cost a state resident about $1500 a semester ... FIU if you are wondering.) Many Tulane undergraduates plan to apply to professional and graduate schools. Professional and graduate schools do NOT like to see pass/fail on any courses and will not accept pass/fail for certain prerequisites. I feel for Tulane's need to keep their fall tuition revenues; but I just don't think this arrangement is exactly fair to students either. Students who take a full semester at a host institution will likely have to retake courses or take additional courses later to get into professional or graduate school.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a parent of a (prospective) fresh-"person", and l will not repeat the comments above, but I cannot accept the decision to keep (or charge) tuition money when Tulane is not providing the education. My daughter is attending an excellent university in the interim, and initially I looked forward to returning to Tulane when it resumed. But the decision to charge the tuition turned me (as a parent who is streched tight to pay the bill) into an potential adversary rather than a friend willing to help. I know Cowen's feelings are mixed, but that is what makes decisions difficult.

I would suggest the following: ask each faculty to take a (total)20% pay reduction during the time Tulane is not open, but agree to increase their salary by 10% for the semesters after it resumes, until they are repaid. That should help alleviate some of Tulane's pressures. I know many students love their teachers, and I think Tulane has a good faculty; but don't ever feel that they are irreplaceable. There is a glut of highly capable PhD's who would be the equal of most any faculty at Tulane or other excellent universities.

The bottom line is painfully simple: when you are in a business (even the ed business), and you don't or can't deliver, YOU pay the price, you don't whine and ask someone else to pay. Accept the pain, and try to keep the customers you have by treating them as if you care about THEM, not YOU. I'll bet (as well as hope) Tulane teaches that in their business school!

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