Christy Shaw's picture

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  by  Christy Shaw

You can hate it, you can love it, or be asking yourself where you stand right now on the idea of free college education for all.

But regardless of how the actual accounting of such a national policy would ultimately succeed or fail, one thing is proving true for an already socialized education system that favors an imbalance between preference for recruiting foreign students over Americans --immigration is pricing Americans out of an affordable higher education.

And a recent survey conducted by American Heritage Action shows that respondents overwhelmingly came together regardless of party, gender and other categories to say that
"the value of a four-year degree is [not] worth the price of tuition today."

One of the problems is that our nation's education system seems to favor the highly inflated tuition funds from its large recruitment of foreign students to native-born students and residents.

In The Washington Examiner July 4th article entitled Chinese students at American universities caught in the crosshairs of trade war, the focus is more on how this is harming these foreign students while conspicuously failing to mention how it hurts American students.

What the article does highlight, and where the numbers speak for themselves if we take the time to read between the lines, is that foreign students pay FULL tuition pricing. Chinese students make up ⅓ of ALL university enrollment numbers, [The more than 360,000 Chinese students in the 2017-2018 academic year made up one-third of all international enrollments at U.S. universities] We have somehow allowed our universities to become so reliant for revenue on foreign funds that the report indicates IUC (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) would suffer a whopping $500,000 annual tuition loss without its Chinese students.

This is not unique to just large institutions or institutions in highly populated urban areas. An example from my home state of West Virginia. Alderson-Broaddus University in Philippi, WV, a private institution, was originally founded as a Baptist college in 1871 serving what is still a very isolated and poor community of local students. ABU now has 59 international students enrolled per semester of a total enrollment of 952 (6%.) That number is continuing to climb each year as the state, and this county loses its young people due to a lack of economic opportunity.

While cultural and ethnic diversity within an otherwise isolated and homogeneous region is a positive, it is the displacement of American students that is disturbing. Is going to college now something Americans won’t do?

ABU provides a very comprehensive page on its website in support of international students to assist them in finding financial assistance for their education, not the least of which includes a suggestion to start a GoFundMe page and then claims this "savings" on the required Statement of Support Form to secure and maintain their student F-1 visas.

This is not to state that support and information is not also available for American students; however, what are we saying to local students when one considers the current tuition, room and board costs at a price tag of $27,910 (2018-2019), in a rural county with a single high school where 22% of the population live in poverty?

Alderson-Broaddus is beginning to show signs of attempting greater engagement with the high school, but it is a true struggle to convince these students (of whom the majority qualify for free lunches and various social services) that it will be worth it to take on such burdensome debt. I worked in the development office and the number one angry complaint of alumni later on when we would ask for donations was "I am still paying off my school loans!" These alumni were from a minimum age group of 23 year-olds to those in their mid-30s and even 40s.

It is in America's best interest to share its impressive education system with international students, but not at the expense of our own citizens. There is something seriously wrong with our immigration policies when we have created a higher education framework where so many schools, especially small private ones like ABU, cannot survive without depending on financing from foreign students -- or where schools decide that making greater profits from admitting foreign students is worth displacing American ones.

THIS is common sense. EVERY parent naturally cares for his or her own children first and the children of others a close second as we are reasonably able. American citizens and residents are the children of this United States and we should offer educational opportunity to them first. Immigrating to America, for whatever reason, is a privilege, not a right that if and when granted, should still never supercede or diminish opportunities first offered to U.S. citizens.

CHRISTY SHAW is the Development Officer for NumbersUSA

Updated: Thu, Aug 8th 2019 @ 4:26pm EDT

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