Op-ed: COVID-19 has left many international students in limbo

Razan Makhlouf, Reporter

It’s been a year since COVID-19 has caused confusion and fear that completely took over daily life, as no one had any idea what was going to happen. As an international student, I was already struggling with tuition, work permit restrictions, and all the rules and regulations that pertained to us. Tuition fees for international students can be four or even five times more costly in comparison to regular students.
The pandemic added to the challenges international students face, many colleges and universities around the country get a large amount of their funding from international students. Adding to the stress, no one seemed to know what to do because people had not faced anything like this in their lifetime. This left international students with no financial aid, no way to go home because international airports were closed, and no way to increase the number of hours allowed to work with a work permit. Six weeks later, a lockdown was ordered. Many businesses such as restaurants and shopping malls began to shut down.
Shortly afterward, schools began to shut down as well and classes were shifted to online schooling. Those who did not have internet had to struggle until they were able to obtain it or waited until different programs were offered so that they were able to finish off the spring 2020 semester. If that wasn’t stressful enough, a large number of expenses followed for safety supplies, including over-purchasing of common household items such as disinfectant and toilet paper from fear of shortages.
It’s been an extreme struggle for so many people and not much has been done for international students. With all these grants and financial aid opportunities being offered to regular students aside from loans and scholarships, or even the option to work extra hours with their new flexible schedules, it was very surprising that there is very little to be done for international students. Instead, tuition increased by $600 per semester. It feels unjust and not at all expected. At the very least, it would have been extremely appreciated and would have made an enormous financial difference to reduce the number of required “full-time” units from 12 to 9 for international students to allow the ability to balance out financial expenses.
The fear of failing, or worry about international students having to go back to their home countries without knowing if returning to the United States would be possible causes so much uncertainty; Combined that with the stress of not being able to pay everything on time, the possibility of losing excellent academic standing, a lower GPA or even worse, not getting a chance to finish your education when you are so close to obtaining your degree, is unlike any other struggle.
We have all lost a lot this past year; International students deserve just as much assistance as they put in hard work and are just as dedicated as every other student.