Friday, October 06, 2006

F1 Status

Higher education in the US has changed a lot in the last decade or so. A decade back, admission to a foreign student in the US meant financial aid was part of the package. The aid package covered tuition and was sufficient to cover living expenses. These days it has become extremely competitive to get financial aid in most US Universities. Most foreign students I know, atleast in the East and West Coast Universities, have little or no aid and are literally paying through their noses for a US education. They live crammed 3 to a bedroom, 12 in a 3 bedroom 2 bath apartment, partitioning the living room to make an additional room to cut costs. The hope is to live the American dream with a good job after graduation. Unfortunately for many of them, there are not so many jobs to go by either and several of them have to go back and face repayment of huge loans. What induces waves of students year after year to aspire for a US education? In some South Indian communities it is the one sure shot way for the groom's family to demand more dowry and the bride's family to pay less. Its a matter of pride to say that your child is in America. What is the Indian obsession with the 'fair coloured'? We hate them for exporting their culture and corrupting our kids with their morals, but we aspire that our kids live there 8000 miles away from what is indeed home!!

Back to the students issue. With the latest terror threats and increasing xenophobia due to successful immigrants American policy makers are really tightening the noose on foreign students. I have heard it say that since 9/11 the number of institutions/organisations funding educational institutions has gone down. American Universities are apparently cash strapped due to shortage of donors and grants. There could be some truth to this, since a lot of money is being spent on the war effort. What does irk me is that F1 students are not allowed to work beyond 20 hours a week and even that needs to be on campus. However, this law is overlooked in several cases, especially among students working in science and technology labs where they essentially become free labour for the Professor.

Personally student life in the US sucks!! You have no life apart from college, your family is miles away, you do not even realise its festival season, you live pay check to pay check and hope you don't lose your job to the Chinese bloke in your class. What am I saying? Isn't this every libertarian's dream, perfect competition!! :-) Just sour grapes and home sickness I guess!! This post is extremely normative and unbecoming of an aspiring economist!!! :-D

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