Letters to Editor, Opinion

LETTER: Financial aid for international students

Some students might think applying for financial aid is easy because all they need to do is choose a right program and fill out a piece of paper. But this process is certainly much more complicated for international graduate students.

Last week, I received an email from COM Director of Student Services Bill Taylor reminding us about the approaching deadlines for financial aid applications. That was the first time over the semester that I realized I might have a chance to relieve my financial burden. However, when I tried to find information about the application requirements, I didn’t find any valuable or clear information designed for international students. Also, when I asked other international students about the financial aid application, most of them said they have no idea of what is available and the related requirements. It seems that the only way for us to understand whether we, as international students, will be qualified for financial aid is through the first email or follow-up emails sent by Mr. Taylor.

BU’s guidelines for financial aid on its official website basically only apply to undergraduate students, and each school might have different policies on that. Although there is an introduction of the financial aid office’s resources on the school’s website, it fails to provide guidelines designed in accordance with international students’ scenarios. As a result, international students may find the whole process rather confusing and give up applying all together, or they may just follow the policy designed for domestic students and end up not getting any financial aid. There is even a rumor saying that it’s a waste of time for international students to apply for student loans, one of the most important financial aid resources, because they will never get it in the United States. That is certainly not an impression that BU should want to make to its students.

BU needs to have some programs available to international students, or at least make the available resources known to them. The Student Service Office should have someone in charge of financial aid for international students, and constant communication with international students is vital. Workshops about international students applying for financial aid could be held if necessary. To make all the information clear and accessible to international students, each school could have a separate page on its website particularly addressing these information.

If all these efforts are made, international students can then feel like the university deeply cares about them.

Youzhu Liu is an international graduate student in the College of Communication and can be reached atyzliu@bu.edu

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