Fabienne Fleurantin/Contributing Writer
In the words of Big Sean, I feel blessed. You know why? Even though I have to pay for tuition, our university comes at a fairly cheap price. I have various alternatives available at my disposal to help pay for these costs. Financial aid, loans, grants, scholarships, jobs on and off campus—these are the things that give my wallet some relief. Unfortunately, these aren’t the same opportunities offered to international students.
They do have some options available, like the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This scholarship claims to “waive the out-of-state fee for all students, including undocumented students,” but it comes with certain conditions. For example, one of the obligations listed is that they would have had to “attend a high school in the state of Florida for three consecutive years.” What if the student just came from their country and needed funds for their education immediately but didn’t meet this requirement?
They also have the choice of getting a job on campus, which is fantastic. However, it can be very difficult at times as the waiting list is quite lengthy. If that’s the case, then they should have the option of getting work outside of campus, right? Wrong.
“That’s a little bit more difficult,” Vivian Betancourt, an international student, told Student Media. “You can’t unless you have a special permit granted by the school and Homeland Security. However, if you’ve finished your associate or bachelor’s degree, you can approach your international student advisor for an OPT, which allows you to work in the state in something related to your major.”
OPT stands for Optional Practice Training and is a paid job that needs to be approved by the school. Still, they can’t go through the same channels as regular students. They have to wait for a number of years to start working at a real profession.
Another international student, Anna Fache, says that these work policies are a concerning situation for her.
“My status only allows me to have a job on campus. If I do get a job outside of campus, I’ll have problems and can get kicked out,” Fache said.
Kicked out? For wanting a job to pay for school? That doesn’t seem fair to me.
According to our university’s International Student Handbook, “As international students, you must have a clear understanding of how hard it can be to finance your education in the U.S. Compared to other countries, American higher education is quite expensive.”
For an undergrad Florida resident attending our university, tuition is $6,168. For non-residents, it’s $18,568—almost three times the amount of regular students. If their tuition is that expensive, then why aren’t they allowed to work off-campus?
Not only are they burdened by the fact that they’re coming into a foreign country unfamiliar to them, but their tuition is inexplicably higher without having the proper channels to help pay it off.
Not all international students have the aid of their families to help them through college. Some families are struggling back home in their country and sent their children away on a path towards a higher education and a better life. With all the expenses that they have to pay off, it would be reasonable for them to have access to a job or a means of income to help them with finances, just like regular students.
Let me be clear, this isn’t an attack on our university. Our university does provide ways to help these students. This is a statement saying that the laws that have been established for international students are insufficient and need to be changed. They’re inadequate to the needs of these students, in terms of accumulating income that could be used to pay off other finances, including tuition. They’re being treated unfairly because of their status and the limitations placed on them is hindering their rights as students.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
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