College is expense, there is no denying. For some, that means having to pick the second best apartment in town, instead of the best one. For others, however, the burden is so harsh that it leads to living in their own cars or having to skip meals.
Even tougher can be the life of international students. Those of us who flew thousands of miles to attend college in the U.S. not only pay the highest tuition and fees, but also have many added costs to their experience.
For starters, international students are only allowed to work 20 hours a week. Not only is the hour-limit shortened, but where we can work is also limited. On-campus jobs and major-related internships are our only opportunities of earning some extra money while going to school full-time.
This needs to change. International students should not be forbidden from working at restaurants and stores around campus; after all, isn’t that a form of prejudice as well? The idea of first offering said positions to Americans makes complete sense. However, there are several businesses who cannot find workers to fulfill their needs. Shouldn’t those jobs be available for international students who want to help the economy and serve others while making money?
Secondly, health insurance is a major problem. International students at most universities are not allowed to acquire health insurance for their preferred provider or maintain their home country’s insurance. Much the contrary, we are obligated to purchase a student insurance plan through our higher education institutions, which are usually more expensive.
If those two extra costs weren’t enough, going home costs significantly more when you have to take multiple international flights. When I find round trip flights for $1,000 or less, I shout in celebration. What this leads to is international students being able to see their families less often, and therefore having to spend even more money on housing and food during breaks.
Even applying to college is more expensive for international students. The whole process has absurd costs, from getting our passports to paying the student visa fees. American universities claim to want more diversity and strive for a globalized environment on campus; however, aside from a couple of international-only scholarships, they do not seem to do much to reduce our expenses.
Oh, and one last comment: To make everything even worse, the U.S. dollar is worth several times more than most foreign currencies. The money we saved back home can buy us much less than the money you saved here, even though we might have worked longer hours. The money our parents make? Worth less as well.
In other words, being a “broke college student” is even bigger of a reality for those of us who have to deal with added costs to the already pricey experience of going to school in the U.S. Something needs to change; if the trend continues, American universities might become completely unaffordable for foreigners. But then again, maybe that is exactly what they want.
Bruno Beidacki is the opinion editor. Contact him a [email protected]