When it comes to college, the state of Georgia has given its legal residents ample opportunities to make college affordable, such as allowing students to apply for the HOPE scholarship and making tuition cheaper for Georgia residents.
However, for most colleges and universities, these opportunities do not extend to Georgia’s nearly 19,000 international students. According to the University System of Georgia, many of those students have been waiting most of their lives for permanent residency.
Despite the fact that the waiting period for immigrants can stretch up to 10 years according to U.S. Citizen and Eligible Non-Citizen standards, a student must be a permanent resident or eligible non-citizen in order to be eligible for FAFSA and the HOPE scholarship. In most universities, students must also be a permanent resident to be granted in-state tuition.
These regulations rule out international students, regardless of how long they have lived in the U.S. In most cases, international students are required to pay full, non-resident fees, paying significantly more for their college educations than students who are born in the U.S.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to get an education, but unfortunately sometimes the students from other countries who want to work hard and succeed cannot do that because of the amount of tuition they have to pay,” said Tanya Kamdar, an international sophomore student at GPC. Kamdar finished her middle and high school education in the United States, and has been considered a temporary legal resident of Georgia for eight years.
The recent jump in tuition rates forces many international students to resort to more affordable two-year educations as opposed to their first option, and still pay more money than universities at four-year institutions for residents. “GPC wouldn’t [have] even been an option if I had a green card.” Kamdar said.
International students going to GPC, paying non-resident fees pay a total of $5,543.00 for 15 credit hours, whereas a student paying in-state tuition, not including the opportunity to get FAFSA or HOPE, taking the same number of credit hours at GSU would pay $5,343.00, Kamdar said. “It’s actually really upsetting.”