FAFSA’s global reach

Weber State University International Program display.

Fall is for FAFSA and applying for financial aid and tuition assistance. However, there is a difference between this process for domestic students and international or undocumented students.

“As of fall 2022, we have 313 International students, and they come from 70 different countries,” Shannon Sandau, internationalization specialist at the International Student and Scholar Center, said.

Kerstin Bernreuther and Trees Niemann, WSU international students, shared their experience transferring to WSU for the semester from the Hof University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

“Our home university has a partnership with Weber State, so we didn’t have to pay tuition,” Bernreuther said. “We still were charged tuition, but our home institution paid it.”

They said Hof University assisted them throughout the process of applying to study abroad. Once they got to WSU, they had an unexpected class fee and needed to purchase some insurance.

Niemann said options to receive aid had not been communicated to them once arriving at WSU.

International students can receive merit-based scholarships based on their academic records and high school transcripts.

“They can receive up to $8,000 a year, split into two semesters, fall in spring, you know. So again, all of those are dependent on their transcript.” Mary Machira, ISSC director, said.

Many international students like Bernreuther and Niemann find it difficult to receive aid even when the application process is completed.

“After the initial scholarship opportunity upon acceptance, it is very difficult for international students to receive additional scholarships,” Sandau said.

Domestic students can receive aid through FAFSA, but that is not an option for undocumented or international students.

Many scholarships are still available to students who fill out the Specialized Scholarship Application. This puts students’ names in an ongoing database to potentially be awarded aid that applies specifically to them.

The ISSC is working on finding more ways and opportunities to provide scholarships to international students. They have worked hard in the past to be able to provide the scholarships that are available now.

“They’ve made a lot of sacrifice to come here, and if we can help them while they’re here because of unforeseen circumstances, then I think we should be able to do that.“ Machira said. “International students can bring a unique perspective to campus, so domestic students and international students definitely have the opportunity to learn from each other.”

The process for International students to be able to study at WSU can be lengthy, and there are many sacrifices these students have to make, but the ISSC is actively working towards supporting these international students.