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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With the devastation in Puerto Rico, South Florida educators are preparing for a huge influx of students.

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“I can guarantee you that Orange County and Miami-Dade will be the two points of reception this will be the new Ellis Island for Puerto Rico,” said Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Carvalho said 12 students from Puerto Rico have already transferred in, but that number is expected to get much bigger soon.

“The big change will occur when full normalization of commercial flights takes place out of San Juan.  When that happens I think we’ll get a pretty good idea of how many kids are leaving daily from Puerto Rico into Florida,” he said.

Miami-Dade College is getting ready too.  They expect a growing number of students from both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“What we want is for these students to enroll.  We want to get them in school. We know that students who stop out and miss one semester have a difficult time re-engaging and going back to school,” said Miami-Dade College spokesman Juan Mendieta.

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MDC is offering in-state tuition for students coming from the U.S. territories in the Caribbean. If they’re ready, they can begin immediately.

“We are able to accommodate those students this very fall semester in our mini-term.  We have a mini-term that starts October 2nd and also October 22nd and also our spring semester in January,” Mendieta said.

“It’s at least giving options to a place that doesn’t have many options right now,” said Jose Aybar.

Aybar is a Miami-Dade college student who has family and friends in Puerto Rico. He’s thrilled they’ll have the chance to get back into school with affordable tuition.

“I’m definitely going to make a phone call and be like, ‘Hey, just in case you wanted to come to school here, there’s offering instate tuition for you guys and I think it’s amazing,’” he said.

Broward College And Florida Atlantic University now confirm they will also offer instate tuition for students from Puerto Rico.

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For information on FAU, go to fau.edu.

Ted Scouten