Studying in the United States as an international student has had its advantages, but it has also been a tough financial battle.
Most international students in the U.S. receive money from their families to pay for school and the cost of living. A few either gets loans or grants from their home countries to afford all the expenses that come with studying here.
To study at CSUN as an international student, you have to show proof that you can pay for school and the living expenses before you are even accepted into the university. According to university calculations, that number comes out to $22,100 per year. If you do not have that money, you will not be issued an I-20, which is the certificate of eligibility for student status.
If you are an international student you are required to take at least 12 units per semester, otherwise, your visa is not valid. The only exception is your last semester where you only have to take as many units as you need to graduate. Winter and summer sessions are optional as well.
The university registration fees come out to $1,521 for 12 units. International students then have to pay an additional $339 per unit. That comes out to $5,589 for one semester at CSUN, without books.
That is a lot of money, and I’m not saying we should not pay more tuition than resident students, because I think we should. However, it is more than $4,000 difference in cost between what an international student pays and what a resident student pays, I think that is a pretty hefty chunk of change.
What bothers me the most about all this is that as an international student I am not allowed to work off campus to help me get through the tough months towards the end of the semester when all the money is gone.
Out of state students pay as much in registration fees as I do, but they can go and apply for a job anywhere they want because they are Americans. I cannot do that. When my money is out, it is out.
There seems to be a misconception around campus that all international students are rich and never have to worry about money. I have even heard it from campus employees who work with international students on a daily basis, and it is not true. Some of us are barely making it.
Students often ask me why I do not apply for financial aid, which is impossible because I am not American. I know nobody forced me to come here, but it would be nice to be able to earn back some of the money I have had to spend on my education.
During the 2004-05 academic year, international students contributed $13.29 billion to the U.S. economy, according to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers: Association of International Educators.
The only place I am legally allowed to work is on campus. The problem is that there are not that many on-campus jobs available.
To help make it easier for international students there should be some jobs set aside for international students only. If this is going to be the only place where we can work to support ourselves, then why not.
Although, if we could get some kind of permit that would allow us to work outside of campus for a certain amount of hours each week, that would be even better and more fair to everyone.
Johan Mengesha can be reached at email@example.com.