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Detailed Expense For An International Student In A Private University

I interviewed a phd student in Columbia University who also got his master degree in U.S.

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In our “Wild Card” category, we have the users who are pursuing PHD degrees in U.S. University. They are not direct target audience, but the thoughts from them may give us some ideas about this challenge.


So I chose a PHD student in Columbia University as my interviewee. He comes from China, he get his Master degree in U.S. as well. So based on his different experience, he talked a lot about his tuition fees and changes in the two study periods.


The conversation started in the CU campus with a sunny day. He came to U.S. to start his graduate life in 2010 after he got his admission letter from Columbia University. And the first thing he needed to do is pay for the tuition and other fees. He showed me his first year paid fees in CU. He took 8 courses in the two semesters, and the cost in total is 38601 dollars. And the actual tuition fee is making up more than 90% of the total. Other fees were still very high but only made up 10% in the total.


Based on my previous background research, his one year cost in CU is more than average annual cost (US$36564) of study in U.S. from HSBC’s reported in 2014. Two reasons make the costs high, one is that CU is a private school, the other one is that he is a international student. I don’t know what it means for an American student, but it is still a high expense for a Chinese family. So he has to reduce his personal (including room, board and supplies) expense in the whole year.


His expense in Fall 2010 term

Description

   Charges

University Facilities Fee

   >$300.00

Health and Related Svcs MORN

   >$400.00

Medical Insurance

   >$700.00

Tuition Graduate Engineering

   >$18,000.00

Document Fee

   >$90.00

International Services Charge

   $50.00


His expense in Spring 2011 term

Date and Description

   Charges

University Facilities Fee

   >$300.00

Health and Related Svcs MORN

   >$400.00

Medical Insurance

   >$1,000.00

Tuition Graduate Engineering

   >$16,000.00

International Services Charge

   $50.00


However, his life turned well after he started his PHD study life. He doesn’t need to pay his tuition and medical insurance fees. He guessed that all his fees were paid by his advisor, and the advisor can get funding from other research organizations. He also told me if he got a TA position in one semester for a professor, the school will pay him monthly. And his advisor will not help him pay his tuition. Because the income of TA can cover the tuition fee just enough for one semester. But he is not quite sure how it is operating here.




What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

After I saw this form, I have no idea about how to reduce actual tuition fee, but I guess maybe we can do something to help students get proper financial aids or reduce their additional fees like board, supplies or medical fee. I am not quite sure for now, so I will read other people’s research and perspectives to seek feasible and helpful solutions.

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