Anyone who is studying at a university has sacrificed to get there and stay there, but for international students, much more is required. For many, help from parents is available, but others come without any financial support.
Jonathan Farias-Vaga is from Chile. He receives some support from his parents.
“I have to work to pay half of my tuition, my apartment and the rest of my basic expenses. The other half, my wonderful parents pay for,” Farias-Vega said. “It’s been a wonderful experience being in this country because I have learned to be self-sufficient in many ways.”
Farias-Vega also receives help from his host family, which has become a great recourse when he needs help moving or is in a bind. Other students are not quite as lucky.
Gabriel Hernandez is a student who came to Utah from Mexico City. Hernandez has been working on campus with Farias-Vega to get by. Hernandez came to the U.S. without financial support from his family and is the first in his family to study in this country.
“I have been paying my tuition by working on campus, loans with some friends and with payment plans,” Hernandez said. “It has taken me a lot of sacrifices. For example, I can’t ever go and see my family in Mexico, and I can’t buy stuff that I like.”
Silvia Holovat is another student who works on campus. She, like Hernandez, is the first in her family to study in the U.S. In preparing to go to school, Holovat spent five years saving for tuition.
“I pay it all basically with my savings, and I want to be here because I can earn so much more money than in my home country,” Holovat said. I spent five years saving because my family cannot help me with money.”
Holovat was more prepared than Hernandez, and has been able to pay tuition and housing with her job and savings. Emigdio Niquet had no savings when he came.
When asked how he pays for school, and what has gone into his success in the U.S., Niquet laughed and said, “It has been an exciting adventure”.
Niquet came to the U.S. with nothing since he had just gotten back from a mission. He was able to find a job within a few weeks and enrolled in a payment plan. The summer of 2009 was the first semester these were offered.
“With my job I paid for part of school, but it was not enough. So the first semester I did some extra tasks to get money,” Niquet said. “I applied for financial aid and received a one-time contribution from my bishop. Once I exhausted the resources I had here, I did what I enjoy the least, and asked for some money from my mother.”
Even while working and looking for help, Niquet was able to get good grades and was hopeful that he could get a scholarship in the future, since most scholarships are given to those who have already spent some time here.
Later he got a scholarship. With that and some credit card debt, was able to continue studying. Niquet hasn’t had to ask for money since his first semester.
“The best part is that I didn’t have to ask people for money,” Niquet said. “I found a system and I repeated the exact same process with some debt accumulation.”
Niquet has now spent three years at UVU and has done more than just school and work. He has learned four foreign languages, picked up guitar, worked and studied.
“Life has been a miracle for me in these last few years,” Niquet said. “I love being here and the progress I have made. My sacrifices have been worth it, and I have learned that money is difficult to get, but there is always a way to get it with the right attitude and with the right purpose.”
By Tiffany Thatcher