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Universities, Bank Offer Financial Relief For Victims As Slide Death Toll Rises To 30

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
Emergency workers walk at the scene of a deadly mudslide that happened over a week earlier, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Oso, Wash.

Washington State University will waive next year's tuition and fees for students who live near the site of the deadly March 22 mudslide in Snohomish County, school leaders announced this week.

The slide "was such an obvious tragedy for our state and for the folks in that area that the troops rallied early and discussions started about how WSU could help," said university spokesperson Kathy Barnard.

Any WSU student with a permanent address in either Oso or Darrington is eligible for the waiver in the 2014-2015 academic year. In-state tuition normally costs around $12,000.

Similarly-impacted University of Washington students should contact the school's financial aid office, says UW spokesperson Norm Arkans.

For students who qualify for federal Pell Grants or state tuition assistance, Arkans notes UW will waive any tuition those programs don't cover for in-state students as part of its "Husky Promise" program.

"Whether they qualify for Husky Promise or not, if their financial circumstances have changed because of this event — and I think the presumption is that anybody affected by this event will have their financial circumstances worsened — then we're here to help them and we've got resources to help them," Arkans says. 

The announcements come on the heels of a similar decision decision by the leaders of the Everett-based Coastal Community Bank. The bank says it is willing to write off mortgage debt if insurance companies don't help homeowners affected by the slide.

With the release of two more names on Thursday, the slide's death toll climbed t0 30. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office said Gloria Halstead, 67, and Jovon E. Mangual, 13, both of Arlington, died of multiple blunt force injuries. 

The number of missing, which had stood at 18 Wednesday, dropped to 15, according to operations manager Heather Oie, who couldn't explain why the tally had changed.

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Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.