64 students at Western Carolina University are looking at a possible increase in tuition fees because they are not from the United States.
Bill Daughtridge, a board member for the UNC system, is preparing a study to see whether it would be “equitable” for international students to pay a higher tuition rate than that of out-of-state students. His reasoning is that international degree-seeking and exchange students pay neither state nor federal taxes to the United States.
“I am not saying I like or dislike international students,” Daughtridge said. “…It is a matter of subsidizing money.”
Daughtridge continued to say the study applied to all students in a “total tuition review for a four-year plan.” All campuses will be involved, and he wants a similar tuition price to be applied to each of the 17 universities. The main goal is to, as Daughtridge put it, “find information no one’s asked before.”
Is it reasonable to ask international students to pay a pinch more?
Currently, there are 64 international students with one-third of them being degree-seeking. The difference lies in which visa they have, a F1 for degree-seeking and a J1 for exchange students. Those who come to Western Carolina to graduate but are not involved in the exchange program are paying around $8,000 per semester in tuition prices. This does not include room and board and other fees. For those in the exchange program, a Western Carolina student pays the tuition price then is exchanged for a student in another country who paid the Western student’s tuition at the international country’s school. The out-of-country student pays for room and board and his or her meals.
President of the Office of International Programs and Services, Dr. Lois Petrovich-Mwaniki, was surprised at Daughtridge’s proposal to increase international student tuition prices. She explained that international students have such limitations attending the university already and did not know why should it be made harder with a pricier tuition?
She explained international students are not allowed to work at a job off campus or apply for work study. With so few jobs on campus and nearly every student struggling to find one, international students have a slimmer chance of gaining extra money by finding a job with only one option: a non-work study related job on campus.
“I feel that the person (Daughtridge) suggesting this move… does not know his U.S. history,” said Petrovich-Mwaniki. “Nor does he understand the amount of money that these international students already bring to the state by attending our schools… I don’t see where he is coming from.”
Alpha Giop, an international student from France, appeared frustrated at the news of an increase in tuition prices.
“It would be kind of annoying to spend more money,” said Giop, “Especially when you see that people you know… they don’t pay that much… it makes you wonder why the difference is so big.”
If the state raised international tuition prices today, Giop said he would hand over the money as he is close to graduating and would not risk the opportunity he has been given. However, he was clear that cheaper tuition fees are better for everyone.
“They have to realize one of the attractive aspects of this school is that it’s less expensive,” he concluded. “Here you can actually get a university card and pay a reasonable amount of money.”
If Daughtridge’s study swings in his favor where “equity” is the key, prices could go up for every student. As for Petrovich-Mwaniki, she prays the opposite.
“I sure hope something like this does not get passed by N.C. I don’t know of any other state that does this. If anything, there have been a few states who actually charge international students in-state tuition.”
If you have an opinion or argument for or against Daughtridge’s study, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.