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USG president opposes new $1000 undergraduate student fee

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Students against Ohio State’s $1,000 annual international student fee are gaining support from the Undergraduate Student Government.
USG is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Ohio Union for international students with a focus on discussing the fee, said USG President Taylor Stepp, a third-year in public affairs.
“We wanted to conduct the meeting to hear from international students about their concerns on the fee and a variety of other issues,” Stepp said. “We believe this meeting will be productive and will give USG better perspective on how to move forward.”
Stepp has in the past shown his opposition to the fee, which in part goes toward study abroad opportunities for all students.
“Study abroad for domestic students SHOULD NOT be paid for on the backs of int’l students. This practice must change,” Stepp said in a tweet on April 10. This tweet was also retweeted by USG’s Twitter account.
Stepp said there is a gap between domestic and international students and would like to hear more from international students at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I urged international student(s), or any student for that matter, to contact me with any of their concerns but specifically this,” Stepp said. “We have a problem with this and we want to make sure that we get this handled.”
Fifty-five percent of the fee will go into academic and service enhancements including Student Life, 25 percent will go toward study abroad scholarships and institutional risk management with the last 20 percent funding information sharing.
Since a portion of the annual $1,000 international student fee benefits study abroad programs, which are available to all OSU students, some don’t think the fee is fair.
Antonio Jose Armas, a third-year international student in mathematics and economics from Venezuela, said that portion of the fee “doesn’t make sense.”
“I do understand that international students can enjoy the scholarships as well but also everybody else is not paying the fee,” Armas said. “I guess my stand on the fee is that if that’s going to be exclusively paid by international students, then it should exclusively benefit international students.”
Stepp agreed and said he and Kevin Arndt, a fourth-year in public affairs and political science and the former USG vice president, were “livid” to hear about it.
Stepp said he and Arndt were “very upset” about the fee for international students and have spoken with Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of Student Life, and Gifty Ako-Adounvo, the director of the Office of International Affairs about it.
An estimated $1 million has already been collected from first-year international students that enrolled after Fall Semester, with $554,500 collected this semester, Ako-Adounvo said.
After four years, the total revenue generated from the international student fee will reach about $6 million per year.
Stepp called the fee “irresponsible,” and he said he is dedicated to resolving it.
Ako-Adounvo said the fee will allow more students to study abroad.
“The more students who study abroad, the more students who have an international experience,” Ako-Adounvo said. “We shouldn’t forget the larger purpose of what the university’s about and how it can provide a good climate for students to thrive, both international and domestic.”
The current tuition and fees for OSU’s international freshmen and transfer students is $26,445, compared to $25,445 for out-of-state residents and $10,037 for in-state residents. There are more than 3,000 undergraduate international students at OSU.
Other Big Ten universities also charge an international student fee.
Purdue charges $2,000 per year and University of Minnesota $145 per year.

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