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Purple Media Network

The Official Student Media of Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

International students navigate the financial hurdles to attend NSU

Tyra Jones
International students hanging out in the Varnado Hall Ballroom.

Every college student faces the hardships of paying for their higher education. Students that don’t get help from financial aid are hit the hardest and international students find themselves at the midst of this struggle.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers international students three programs to study under: bilateral agreements, the International Student Exchange Program or as transfer students.
Students studying under bilateral agreements directly exchange their place at a home university for one at NSU. For tuition, they are only required to pay the amount they would owe to a home university but are required to pay for their own housing.
In comparison, the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) and transfer students exchange their place at a home university for someone else’s spot at NSU, a student from NSU that is studying somewhere other than NSU. ISEP students pay the full NSU tuition.
Lauren Jackson, director of financial aid, shared that most international students rely on scholarships to pay their tuition.
“International students that are here on an F1 Visa are not eligible for federal student aid, the only thing they could apply for through the university would be scholarships,” Jackson said.
International students are eligible for all university scholarships, including academic scholarships, unless they do not meet the individual requirements.
“Only true entering freshman that meet high school eligibility requirements will be offered academic scholarships, (or) our foundation office can offer scholarships too, not just entering freshman,” Jackson said.
Valentina Herazo-Alvarez, interim director of the international student resource center and study abroad, shared specific scholarships international students typically receive.

“There’s not much financial aid for international students, most international students coming in get scholarships from CAPA; while athletic scholarships are like a full ride, CAPA students are left to pay the rest out of pocket,” Herazo-Alvarez said.
Alessandra Coneo, a business and communication major, first came to NSU as an exchange student from the University of Cartagena in fall of 2022.
“I always wanted to do an exchange since I started my degree in Colombia, but COVID came and ruined my hopes of studying in another country,” Coneo said. “I wanted to study in the US to practice my English, so when I saw this trade with NSU, I really wanted to be here.”
Coneo expressed the benefits of doing an exchange program.
“With an exchange program, you must pay the tuition from your home country. Also, I got a scholarship to live in Varnado, it was very helpful because I came from a public institution where I barely pay a fee that is about ten dollars,” Coneo said.
After her first year at NSU, Coneo became a transfer student to complete her bachelor’s as a double major.
“When I transferred here it was different, we had to pay full tuition from NSU, without the out-of-state fee,” Coneo said.
Once she officially transferred, Coneo found more difficulty when paying for school.
“At the same time, it is still hard to pay what is left thanks to the devaluation of the Colombian peso, for us we’re against an ‘expensive’ U.S. dollar,” Coneo said.
Currently, Coneo receives scholarships from the media team of the Spirit of Northwestern marching band, as a photographer for the Potpourri yearbook team, as the Purple Media Network social media manager and from the NSU foundation.
“Without financial aid and scholarships, it will be impossible to pay the full tuition for some international students,” Coneo said.
Jorge Andres Vargas Martinez, business administration major, is from Cartagena, Colombia and came to NSU in Fall 2021.
“I am not enrolled in an exchange or study abroad program, but I like to learn about every country, tradition and culture,” Vargas said. “Thanks to the relation and the agreement between this university and my high school, I was able to apply for a scholarship and a position to be a member of the Spirit of Northwestern marching band.”
Vargas enjoys the culture at NSU and expresses his love for the community.
“Since I came here, I noticed that this university has a large international and exchange student community, and they have a lot to contribute to this campus and town,” he said. “Our energy, culture, traditions and smiles are what represent what we are and how much we love this university.”
Vargas wanted to give back to NSU and sought to be a Freshman Connector for the summer of 2023.
“I got an opportunity from NSU, and I wanted to give back to this university, so I got a chance to be a connector and oriented other students during their transition from high school to college,” Vargas said.
Vargas and Coneo expressed gratitude for their opportunity to study at NSU. Coneo shares that though she is grateful, financial aspects of studying are always on her mind.
“I would say as international students we are so grateful that NSU offers scholarships for us, but also, our parents, and family are working so hard to pay for our studies, it’s something that is always on our minds.”

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About the Contributors
Nina Ovalle
Nina Ovalle, Current Sauce - News Editor
Nina Ovalle is a junior hospitality management and tourism major. This is her third year in The Current Sauce, and second year as News editor. She hopes to bring important campus information to light and make students aware of everything that goes on around them.
Tyra Jones
Tyra Jones, Current Sauce - Photographer
Tyra Jones is a junior health and exercise science major with a concentration in physical therapy. She is involved in many extracurriculars on campus, some of them include working for the Recruiting office, a former Freshman Connector and a Demon Mentor. She is excited to build her photography skills and meet new people this semester and looks forward to being a part of The Current Sauce.

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