The first International Conference held by Grambling State University’s Student Government Association gave all international students an opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions about their experiences at GSU.
Finances were the biggest concern expressed by those who attended the session Tuesday in the Favrot Student Union Theater.
Grambling State University is known for being a multi-cultural institution. This year, there are 245 international students from 32 different countries. But the recent decline in their numbers may be attributable to a prepayment process international students must go through.
Effective last semester, GSU requires all international students to make a deposit of $21,404 prior to immigrating to the U.S. If the student’s visa is denied, then the student will be fully refunded after providing GSU with documented proof.
Oluwaseun Adedew, a sophomore computer information system major from Nigeria, said that students from his country have been discouraged by the large amount they must pay up front prior to attending the university.
”If the school is concerned that international students are coming over to the America and not going to school, they can be fair enough and make us only pay half of $21,404,” said Adedew.
Samantha McCabe, GSU’s international admissions counselor, didn’t know all the details on the prepayment process for Grambling State’s international students.
McCabe said the payment covers a year’s tuition, room and board, a meal plan, mailbox and a $60 fee international students must pay every semester. After the Office of Finance receives the full payment, an international student would be issued the certificate that makes them eligible to apply for the non-immigrant visa, which allows them to come to the U.S. for schooling but not to stay permanently.
The prepayment process wasn’t the only financial concern for international students on GSU’s campus.
Students also complained about the late registration fees. Yvonne St. Luce, a senior biology major from St. Lucia, said it isn’t the student’s fault that the university receives their money too late.
Students were also concerned with the lack of job opportunities since they cannot receive work-study because they are not eligible for federal aid, the lack of good professors, the cost of living, late night transportation to classes, the food and the limited number of events for international students.
St. Luce suggested that more international students get involved with the American students as one resolution to some of the issues.
“If we integrate with the American students then they would have a better understanding of our culture and we will have a better understanding of their culture.”
St. Luce is also the senator for the College of Arts and Science.
The International Conference gave SGA officials a better understanding of the demands of international students and have vowed to work to provide them better services.
”The turnout was well represented,” said Wasiu Onaade, a senior computer information systems and accounting major from Nigeria. “The concerns, questions and statements made from the international students that were present, were represented.”
Onaade, who is GSU’s International Student Representative on the SGA board, said the SGA is going to unite with the international office and student affairs and present the issues discussed to Grambling State University’s administration.