Asian studentsoffered waivers

Sarah Hallonquist

Heeding the call of international students hit by Asian market problems, University officials are confident they’ve devised ways to ease tuition burdens.
In a report recently forwarded to Board of Regents members, Kay Thomas, the director of International Student and Scholar Services, outlined various tuition waivers and deferments the school is offering to affected students.
The report describes three waiver options. The Foreign Student Tuition Waiver will cover 25, 50 or 100 percent of the non-resident tuition, based on financial need. This would allow some students to pay resident rates if they received a full waiver.
On a case-by-case basis, the school is also handling deferred tuition payments. Even if they don’t pay their tuition in full, students would be able to register for the next quarter. Advising services are being offered by Thomas’ office in addition to other counseling being extended to students.
South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have been the hardest hit by market failures. And with almost a third of the more than 457,000 foreign exchange students in the nation coming from those four countries, American lawmakers are taking notice.
Concerns trickled into the state Legislature last week when a Democratic committee chairman suggested the state do more to help.
Rep. Mike Jaros, chairman of the Economic Development and International Trade Committee, sent a memo to fellow lawmakers and college officials last week urging them to find ways to keep Asian students in the United States.
“I think we should help our neighbors in trouble,” said the Duluth representative in an interview Tuesday.
International students generate $130 million for the state’s economy each year, his memo stated.
Jaros noted federal restrictions against work study for international students, but questioned whether they could be lifted.
“Perhaps the federal government will change their laws and rules, at least temporarily,” the memo stated.
So far, Jaros has not heard any response from his fellow lawmakers. He plans to send the memo to his colleagues’ homes sometime next week.
Because of the federal regulations, lawmakers won’t be able to do anything during this legislative session except urge college officials to bend the rules for Asian students. So that leaves the work to individual schools to find ways of helping students in financial straits, such as the University’s waiver approach.
While the outlook for some international students is murky in the long run, graduate student Junghye Yang is finishing her dissertation and has only a few quarters left.
Still, Yang is representing her Korean peers in alerting the University to their problems. She is acting as a liaison between students and the administration, pressing officials to be flexible with financial matters.
Many students Yang knows have gotten jobs tutoring their language, typing documents in Korean or working in food services, she said.
“The way we see this problem is that it’s going to be worse,” said Yang, who noted the last few months are only the beginning of more financial troubles.
“Usually it takes time for people to feel the real impact of something,” she said. “So we’re expecting the real impact probably after summer.”