I cherished my first year at UNC — drinking from the Old Well on FDOC, making friends from all over the world and engaging in a variety of student organizations. But after March, it quickly became apparent that I would no longer be able to continue my journey at UNC.
The ongoing pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on businesses all over the world. In March, the travel-based company my father worked for had to significantly reduce operations, and he was let go. At the same time, my father tested positive for COVID-19 and had a long and difficult recovery journey.
Immediately, I knew that my family would no longer be able to afford to send me to UNC. After reaching out to the financial aid office, I was notified that they could not do anything for me. While this may seem puzzling, it all came down to one thing — being an international student.
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International students hail from all over the world, adding an essential layer of diversity to UNC. We have to pay the full $56,000 cost of attendance, since we are ineligible for financial aid and most scholarships. On top of this, international students like myself have to work harder to get into UNC; UNC’s in-state acceptance rate is much higher than its out-of-state and international one. Despite my hard work in the past year — achieving a near-perfect GPA, working as a research assistant to two different professors and serving as an Honor Court counsel — the University could offer me no financial assistance.
All this prompts the question: why would international students even bother to leave their countries and study in the United States if they face extra hurdles and have to pay more? The main reasons are the higher quality of education that American universities have to offer and the opportunity to end up working in the world’s strongest job market. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has drastically altered the balance of trade-offs.