A price to pay to study in the US

Gershon Harrell

Two sisters from Jakarta, Indonesia, both with different majors, transferred to Kent State from Seattle Green River community college in search of a more affordable school that offers a good education.

“My sister found Kent State University because there’s also a fashion school here that is really good, so yeah we decided to move here,” said Nadya Putri, a sophomore business management major.

Like other international students, Nadya and her sister Tasya Putri, a fashion and merchandising major, are expected to pay the full price of tuition, without any financial assistance from the U.S.

Nadya and her sister come from an upper middle class family where their father is an insurance broker and their mom is a housewife, back home in Indonesia. 

Nadya said she chose to study in the U.S. because Tasya was already studying abroad and her father has colleagues who send their children to the U.S. to study.

With Tasya already studying abroad in U.S., Nadya decided to as well.

Their father takes on the responsibility of paying for their education while they’re in the U.S.

Nadya’s tuition is $6,000 per semester, not including her sisters tuition, which is $200 more because she’s in the fashion program.  

“It’s kind of hard because six thousand just for one kid is a lot, is a little bit hard for my father so we took the payment plan,” Nadya said.

Sending $12,000 a month to cover their school tuition, apartment rent utilities and phone bill, their father asks the Putri sisters to keep track of how much they spend.

Two-thirds of their fathers salary goes to them, Nadya said.

Abiola Hassan, a freshman aeronautics major from Nigeria, said her parents pay $40,000 a year in order for her to attend school in the U.S.

“To be a pilot you have to pay an extra $11,000 every semester because flying a plane is so freaking expensive,” Hassan said.

Hassan currently has a scholarship that ends this semester.

“It wasn’t so much, it wasn’t really going to do nothing. It wasn’t going to really reduce anything it was $2,500 a year,” Hassan said.

Hassan comes from a wealthy family in Nigeria where her parents own a construction company.

Hassan said Nigeria currently experiences an economical crisis and says a naira, the nigerian currency, is worth only $370.

“So you can imagine the rate,” Hassan said. “So paying $40,000 dollars is like paying millions in my country,”

Like Hassan, Pacifique Niyonzima, is an international student from the continent of Africa.

“I’m originally from Rwanda which is in central Africa,” Nyonzima said. “So I came to the U.S. in 2011 and I went to Walsh University to learn English because I didn’t speak English when I first came.”

It took Niyonzima two years to learn the English language and then he eventually went to Walsh for his undergraduate. After graduating, he decided to come to Kent State for his masters in higher education.

Before Niyonzima came to the U.S., he grew up in an orphanage ran by a priest. Born a tutsi, he lost his family to the Rwandan genocide that took place in 1994.

The priest helped Niyonzima come to the United States and found him a host family Niyonzima said.

“They treat me like their kid,” Niyonzima said, referring to his host family.

Being an international student he didn’t have access to financial support like domestic students, so he had to pay out of pocket with the help of his host family.

“I tried my best to do things that would support me,” Nyonzima said. “Like, I was a RA, so you have free housing, free meal. That kind of helped me and my host family.”

Being heavily involved on campus helped him establish a connection to Walsh University and eventually led him to pursue a job as an RA.

Nyonzima said when he applied to be an RA people around campus said he would be very good at the job, but he had his doubts.

“I’m like, I don’t think so, how am I going to be able to lead American students and domestic students who speak better English than me,” Nyonzima said.

Nyonzima talked to his role models about the position and they encouraged him to pursue it.

“They told me ‘don’t never allow anything to bring you down, so maybe leading others is your gift, don’t let other things keep you from growing your gifts’,” Nyonzima said.

Being an RA gave him his passion and helped him come to the realization that he wanted to pursue a career in higher education.

Pacifique said he has been in the U.S. for six years and is going back to Rwanda for his internship at the University of Rwanda.

“That’s why I now I am very fortunate to be part of Kent,” Nyonzima said. “To be here, get the best education, and so when I go back home I can apply the knowledge I learn from here and make it more applicable back home and that way give back.”

Nyonzima said what he would like to go back to Rwanda and open a partnership between University of Rwanda and Kent State.

“They are making Kent a more globalized institution, and that way I can give back to Kent and back home as well,” Nyonzima said.

Gershon Harrell is the Diversity reporter. Contact him at [email protected].