Life as an International Student: It's all about the money...

If you talk with an American student about UAF, they will most likely tell you at some point that UAF's cheap tuition is one of the huge benefit of staying in Alaska. You might first think they are trying to make a joke, but no, they are not kidding! Attending UAF is fairly cheap compared to other U.S colleges. But for students from countries where colleges and universities are free a couple thousand dollars tuition is not cheap at all.It's a lot of money!  Its even harder for international students to pay tuition and the high cost of living due limited working opportunities because of visa restriction.
However, it is possible to fulfill your dream of studying in Alaska.Here are 5 things you should keep in mind about financing college as international student:

1. Make a list: My biggest recommendation would be to make a list including all fees and costs for one semester. If you are a J-1 exchange students: congratulation! You won't have to pay tuition at UAF. Take advantage of that and chose a bunch of recreation classes! However, even if your tuition is covered, you still have to pay fees. Make sure to check out UAonline to find out the amount of fees you are required to pay. Furthermore, if you stay on campus in one of the dorms, you will have to pay your rent for one whole semester all at once in the beginning. Additionally, basically all dorms but Cutler require you to purchase a meal plan which is usually between $1000 and $2000 per semester. Make sure you are aware of all those costs to avoid a bad surprise.

2. Teaching Assistantship/Research Assistantship for Graduate Students: If you are attending UAF as a F-1 graduate student, contact your department and ask for available  TA (teaching assistant) or RA (research assistant) jobs. Teaching/Research Assistantship jobs include a stipend covering your tuition and some money to cover some living expenses. Besides that you will teach your own classes or labs and therefore you will get valuable insides and experience in your field of study. Saying this: Scoring a job as TA or RA is the best option for F-1 students.

3. Jobs on Campus: No matter if you are J1 or F1 student, you can work up to 20 hours per week on campus. However, if you work 21 hours or work off campus you will lose your visa so make sure you and your employer know the requirements and condition for international students. Jobs on campus include working in a coffee shop, the post office, the gym, in language tutor lab, community service officer and so on or TA/RA positions as mentioned above.

5. Scholarships: Scholarships are a huge deal in the U.S and many students have at least one scholarship paying for either books, rent or even tuition. It is not easy to receive a scholarship as an international student. However, you should definitely give it a try! Maybe your home country offers research scholarship for citizen studying abroad? Maybe you find a grand or research funding which fits your special area of research/studies? Even though the chances of getting a scholarship are a little lower as non-US resident, you should definitely give it a try. You usually only need to submit an essay and in the end you might receive a scholarship of over $1000.

4. Living in a dry cabin: Rent is one of the biggest expenses when living in Alaska. If you are only here for one semester, staying on campus is the way to go since you will meet a bunch of people, it's comfortable and you do not need a car. However, if you are a degree seeking student and e up for an adventure, living in a dry cabin might be a good way for you to experience some true Alaskan lifestyle and to save some money. Dry cabins are cabins without running water. That means you will need to get water for cooking and cleaning in big barrels, your toilet is an outhouse and if you want to shower or do your laundry you will need to use a public shower at UAF. If you have a reliable car and you are up for some adventure including chopping lumber and running to your outhouse at -40 C - go for it! It will be an experience of a lifetime (and will safe some money ...).

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