Kim Hyuchang came to the United States, specifically CSUN, to study English.
He transferred from a university in Korea to the Intensive English Program at CSUN to increase his understanding and fluency in English.
Hyuchang lives in a two-bedroom apartment off campus with his wife, sister and brother in-law, and said that money is tight.
He is unemployed and relies on his parents who live in Korea to help him pay for his tuition and fees. He said living away from Korea is difficult since he is not familiar with Northridge, adding that the high fees he must pay to attend CSUN have made his transition into the United States more costly.
“It’s not fair,” Hyuchang said. “(CSUN) is too expensive.”
Currently, international students and out-of-state residents at CSUN must pay a university fee, a nonresident fee, which is $339, and campus fees.
In late October, however, the California State University Board of Trustees approved student fee increases starting Fall 2006, and as of this year, the nonresident fee is expected to remain unchanged, several university officials said.
According to the 2004-05 CSU budget, nonresident student fees were increased by 20 percent due to an effort by the CSUN Board of Trustees to reduce the number of faculty and staff layoffs and maintain enrollment rates.
The total statewide CSU revenue from nonresident student fee increases is expected to be $20,526,000.
Full-time, out-of-state undergraduate and international students fees for 2004-05 were $10,170 for the academic year.
In 2004-05, CSU undergraduate state resident student fees were $2,334 for two semesters.
According the CSU, fees vary campus-by-campus and averages $526.
The CSU fee rate for out-of-state and international students has steadily increased in previous years.
In 2002-03 and 2003-04, CSU fees for nonresidents for the academic years was $8,460 at $246 per unit. In 2001-02, full time nonresidents paid $7,380 for the academic year.
Lili Vidal, associate director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at CSUN, said that since international students and out-of-state students are categorized as nonresidents, they are not eligible for federal or state financial aid.
“I guess the federal government (doesn’t) want to invest resources,” Vidal said, regarding how international students’ F-1 visa status and their immediate return to their home country after graduation are contributing factors to their financial aid ineligibility.
She said even though most nonresident students are not eligible for financial aid, several students still seek financial aid alternatives at the Financial Aid and Scholarships, adding that one to three students during the academic school year receive scholarships.
Vidal said, however, that most scholarships offered to students often require that the student be a U.S. citizen, adding that it often indicates that most international students would encounter difficulty in receiving a scholarship.
“(Nonresidents) are not getting money because they are not taxpayers,” she said.
Vidal said out-of-state and international students must pay high fees because their fees are not subsidized. The federal and state government subsidizes state resident student fees, she said, because these students, as well as their parents, pay in-state taxes, which decreases their fee amount.
“Students who are state residents are paying state taxes,” Vidal said.
The federal government, however, in an effort to recover from the money lost from subsidized state resident student fees, does not subsidize nonresident student fees, she said.
When non-resident fees are accumulated, the fees represent the amount of state taxes that each state resident student and their parents had to pay that year, Vidal said.
Weon Jung, an undecided freshman enrolled in the IEP and a friend of Hyuchang, said that unlike Hyuchang, he believed the international student fees were fair because residents must pay in-state taxes.
“Sometimes it’s fair because (residents) pay taxes in America,” Jung said.
Hyuchang, who has been enrolled in IEP for nine months, said the program fees are expensive and do not include the cost of living. IEP, a program that provides full-time English language instruction to international students, costs $4,200 a semester with an additional application $100 processing fee.
Jay Kwon, a first year IEP student who plans to one day open a physical therapy clinic, expressed similar sentiments to Hyuchang.
“I’m angry about (the fees),” said Jay Kwon, first-year IEP student. “I think it’s expensive.”
Like Hyuchang, Kwon’s parents, who live in Korea, also help him pay for tuition and fees, as well as on-campus housing, which he said is costly.
“We never get into the subject of finances with (international and out-of-state students),” said Taranika Echols, resident adviser of University Park Apartments Building 9.
Echols said she does not believe that international students struggle with finances, adding that she see several of these students entering the dorms with shopping bags.
“Being that it is a CSU, this school is very affordable,” she said.
Prior to coming to CSUN, an international student must submit a financial affidavit and bank statement to determine if the student would be able to financially support him or herself in the United States, said Roopa Rawjee, foreign student adviser of Student Development and International Programs.
The estimated expenses for an undergraduate international student, according to an Affidavit of Financial Support, during this academic school year, includes $8,136 for tuition at $339 per unit; $3,036 in fees; $1,260 for books and supplies; $8,880 from dorm and meals; $879 for a required, 12-month insurance plan; and $3,309 for transportation and personal expenses.
The total cost to attend CSUN for an undergraduate international student is $25,500.
According to the Fall 2005 enrollment statistics for international students, the number of international students on a F-1 and J Visa enrolled at CSUN is 1,149.
Rawjee said that few students go to her with complaints about having to pay high fees or housing costs. She added that most international students are aware of the costs of living in California prior to coming to the United States.
“You made a choice to come to this school,” Rawjee said. “This school has things to offer you, so you got (to) pay the price. It is a give and take. You can’t have everything.”
Most international students work hard in their country of origin and save money to study in the United States, she said.
“The international student is not a U.S. citizen,” Rawjee said. “They are not eligible for the benefits that U.S. citizens enjoy, and so they are required to pay higher fees, and they come with that understanding.”
“They are all wealthy,” she said.
Carol McAllister, assistant director of International Admission in Admission and Records, said international students must pay the nonresident fees of $339 unless they change their residency status.
“If they think they can’t afford it, they won’t ever come,” she said.
A large portion of international students do not have money, and most will ask their family and friends to help them because they are serious about getting an education, McAllister added.
Jin Kwan Kim, first-year IEP student, who plans to start a career in sports management, said the nonresident fees at CSUN are too high for him to pay since he works only with his father at his family’s shop in the Valley.
“We pay too much,” Kim said, adding that most international students cannot get a part-time job because the F-1 visa status does not allow them to work.
Unlike Kim who can work to pay his nonresident fees, Hyuchang is not allowed to have a job or be employed due to his F-1 visa status.
“I don’t have a job,” he said. ”
It’s hard, real hard.”
Veronica Rocha can be reached at email@example.com.