Smith College creates semester program for displaced students from Puerto Rico

Photo  courtesy of |  Smith announced its commitment to hosting students displaced by Hirriane Maria earlier this week. 

Photo  courtesy of | Smith announced its commitment to hosting students displaced by Hirriane Maria earlier this week. 

Cas Sweeney ‘19
Associate Editor

On Monday, following the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Smith College announced a new program to invite students from the University of Puerto Rico or other affected institutions to study at the college.

In this visiting semester program, the college will fully fund accepted applicants’ studies. The visiting students will receive tuition, room and board, book stipend, and coverage for personal expenses and travel.

The program will invite the students to study at Smith during Spring 2018. The timetable of the program aims to help students from the University of Puerto Rico continue their post-secondary studies with as little disruption as possible, given the overwhelming circumstances. 

Vice President of Enrollment Audrey Smith said of the program, “Our goal is to allow these students to continue their studies at an outstanding liberal arts college with a welcoming, supportive community.”

Because of the destruction of the hurricane, the applicants may face abnormal difficulties completing applications. 

Therefore, the college will be flexible about the documentation necessary for the application. The program will accept screenshots or photos of previous academic information if the originals are inaccessible or destroyed.

Though the circumstances of the program are unique, the framework for this opportunity already exists at the college. In 2005, Smith created a similar program after Hurricane Katrina.

The general organization of the program is based on the current Visiting Student Program, which allows students to spend a semester or a year at Smith. 

The main difference between the general program and the program for students from Puerto Rico is the source of the funding. Otherwise, the two programs overlap in both function and form.

The program was designed in a collaborative effort by President McCartney, Smith, the Admissions Office and Student Financial Services, with the goal of putting a workable plan into place as soon as possible.

Because of the time frame of the program, both the application process and the decision period are extremely brief. There is a rolling deadline for admission, with Dec. 6 as the firm end date, and if accepted, students will have one week to reply to the offer.

President McCartney said, “One of the most meaningful ways that Smith can support the students of Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria is to help them continue their education even as their universities recover and rebuild. We anticipate hosting as many as 10 visiting students. I look forward to welcoming them and know that all of us will benefit from their presence.”

Students can apply through the Common Application and unlike the broader Visiting Student Program, there is no application fee. 

Those who are interested in applying can find more information online or by contacting Smith’s admission office: or (413) 585-2500.