Timothy Burke over at Easily Distracted has a suggestion for dealing with all the students whose curricula were disrupted. He suggests spreading them out among a system of other schools.
Why not get a huge network of colleges and universities together, proportionately distribute the student bodies of all these institutions across the network, offer automatic transfer admissions to your size-adjusted and randomly designated proportion of that student population, with the New Orleans institutions agreeing to honor all credits taken at the host institution as if they were taken at Tulane, Xavier or Loyola. Treat the tuition paid to the New Orleans schools as if it were paid to your institution but allow Tulane, Xavier and Loyola to keep the tuition so they can make their bills for the academic year. (E.g., the host institutions would accept the transfer students as a freebie). Pay transport costs for the affected students and waive the cost of their room and board for the year as well.
A good idea, though I'm not sure it is practically possible. Take, for example, my school. We have ... well, had ... a site in New Orleans. Now, I'm not even sure what records we still have. I keep hearing about refugees saying things like, "We have money; we just don't have any access to it." Do these schools even have records of who is enrolled? What about federal financial aid? With all the paper documents and internet servers washed away, I'm not even sure how we would begin such a process.
I'm not saying we should reject this idea, because I think it is quite a good one. I'm just saying that it is not as simple as getting a list of students and saying, "OK, you take students A-G, you other school take students H-M ..." I'm suggesting instead that even though it may be undoable now, perhaps AASCU or some other umbrella group could put together a plan to make it possible in future crises.
Hat tip to Bourgeois Nerd.