The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Contrary to popular belief…

Tamara Afzoud, like so many other international students, knows the difficulty of having to cope with the high price of education on a tight budget.
Not only are international students charged $155 per unit, but they are also not allowed to work off-campus or apply for financial aid.
As a second year student at City College, Afzoud said she has gained insight in to the shared struggle of international students in their everyday life from her work as a peer counsellor in the international students office.
“We’re restricted to whatever’s on campus and they’re the only jobs we can have legally,” she said. “There is a big misconception among American students that international students are coming here and taking all the jobs on campus,” Afzoud said.
Derrick Banks, director of the international students program, said “I never even came close to hearing that. There will never be that struggle.”
Student visas do not allow international students to work off-campus. If they do take a job in the community they risk deportation and may not be able to retain a visa in the future. Moreover, they can not get financial aid.
However, international students are eligible for some scholarships. Cecilia Morales, scholarship coordinator at financial aid, said “There aren’t a lot for international students, but we can inform them about scholarships available on or off campus. The internet is the best resource for finding a scholarship.”
Afzoud said that the reason for the high tuition fees is that international students do not pay California State taxes. The amount international students and their parents would have paid in tax, if they were California residents, is added to the in-state tuition fee of $26 per unit.
Banks, who is responsible for planning, organizing and controlling the support the international students office provides for the students, said “They are just not picking on the international students, there is an equation. The only time it increases is when the in-state fee increases.”
Banks also said that he thinks Governor Schwarzenegger has international students in mind in his politics because Schwarzenegger was once an international student himself.
Banks said that he doesn’t think the tuition fee will increase more and that it is important to keep in mind the fees at universities, which are even higher than those at City College
Afzoud said “Considering the level and quality of SBCC’s education, the tuition fee is reasonable.”
International students are allowed to work up to 19 hours a week on campus after their first successful semester. The wait helps the school to make sure that they can handle their 12 units before taking on other things, Afzoud said.
Afzoud said that the most common mistake international students make is that they forget to calculate costs in addition to the tuition fee. Costs of books and insurance might not seem important when you have to pay the high tuition fee but it all adds up.
“But as long as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll be ok,” she said.
There are around 500 International students at SBCC. The biggest groups of international students at City College come from Japan and Sweden.
Banks said that the nationality of the international students depends a lot on the economy of their country. Japanese students can afford to study here because the yen is strong and Swedish students can afford to come here because of a state-owned organization that provides student loans.
“Generally speaking Swedish students come here on student loans while students who get funding from their parents tend to come from other areas,” Afzoud said. “It is another misconception among American students that the international students are wealthy and just come here to spend their money and have a good time. But 99 percent of the time that is not the case.”
One reason American students think that Swedish students are rich is that they dress according to European standards, which are ahead in fashion. The clothes may not be expensive, but they look good, Afzoud said
“Of course some of the international students from Europe and Asia are fortunate and can spend money on nice clothing, but that’s not the majority,” she said.
Banks said that the interactions between American and international students are usually pleasant and benefit both parties.
“Sometimes I like to think there is this mysticism and romance with what they don’t know about each other,” Banks said.

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