How Accidents Can Disrupt Student Success

Walter M. Kimbrough
3 min readJul 8, 2021

We often hear these anecdotal stories about how a small thing like an accident can disrupt college continuation and ultimate success. I think a lot of folks who are harsh critics of schools with low graduation rates but high numbers of Pell Grant students don’t fully understand how this works. So let me use a personal example.

I was minding my business on June 2nd driving on the expressway to pick up Lydia around 9 pm when the traffic slowed and the car behind me didn’t. I sat there thinking, “Did someone just hit me WHILE I was driving?” I pulled over to the shoulder and called the non-emergency number. As I waited two women pulled up next to me and asked if I was okay. I said yes, just waiting on the police to come. They said that’s good because there was no one in the car that hit me.


I backed up my car on the shoulder close to the other car and there was no one there! They literally ran OFF the expressway. So the DOTD came and moved the vehicle and we waited for NOPD. While waiting we found liquor bottles and rolling paper in the front, and lots of clothes and stuff in the back seat and trunk. The car had a temporary tag, which they ran and the car had not been reported as stolen.

When I got the police report I also learned that the police went to the house where the car was registered. No one was there either.

But my car worked so I went home and called the insurance company to start the process. I dropped off my car for repairs on June 10th, and got a rental car. The insurance covered 80% of the rental for 20 days. I was sure the dent and repairs would not take 3 weeks.

But COVID has disrupted supply chains, and it took several weeks to just get the parts. I turned in the car on July 3rd, because we were going out of town and I wouldn’t need a car, but that was $300 out of pocket.

Today, July 7th, five weeks after being hit and 4 weeks after dropping off my car, it is done. I have to pay my $500 deductible on close to $7,000 of damage. For me, the $800 is no big deal.

But I thought. What if I were a low income earner with a kid in college, and I need reliable transportation for work. The rental cost would have been closer to $500 so we’re looking at $1,300.

That’s 2 weeks of salary for someone earing $15/hour.

So what can folks do? I found this site which lists a number of options. Please share with people who have these kinds of accidents which can set them back financially.

The Prez



Walter M. Kimbrough

12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.