Nigerians studying in US universities are grappling with the effects of the falling value of the Nigerian currency, Naira.
“They tell everybody it’s a fixed (tuition) rate. But really, if you’re international and your money’s in Naira, it’s not fixed,” said engineering senior Faramola Isiaka.
“If you’re paying X amount in dollars and suddenly the currency you’re paying in gets halved in value, you’re basically having to pay double the amount.”
His friend, Awele Uwagwu, found himself unable to settle the overdue balance in his student account. When there are payments pending, he couldn’t register for classes or maintain his visa, forcing him to fly back to Nigeria less than a week later.
“I was really passionate about every single thing that I did on campus and I loved every single moment of every single thing that I did,” Uwagwu said.
“I felt like after everything I have done, it just came down to funds.”
“I’ve never 100 percent understood why international tuition is astronomically higher than out-of-state and in-state,” Isiaka said.
For Uwagwu, the US$900 in merit-based aid he received freshman year was barely enough to scratch the surface of the nearly US$50,000 he needed to pay.
“I understand the way things work, and it may seem selfish, but I feel like there could be a better system to at least support international students with a merit scholarship,” Uwagwu said.
“I really wish things could be more merit-based and not necessarily about where you’re from, what country you’re born in, because at the end it’s all chance and I think everyone should get the best education they can get.”
— Awele HeHimHis (@AweleU) February 27, 2018
In an email, Martin McFarlane, the director of International Student and Scholar Services wrote: “We have a 150-year legacy of putting an affordable and accessible higher-educational experience in the hands of those who choose to enroll here, and our international enrollment continues to grow because of this reputation.”