UAB student concerned about tuition increase, university responds

Concerns over international student fees

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The University of Alabama Birmingham is increasing tuition for international students and at least one student said she worried she wouldn’t be able to afford it during a worldwide pandemic.

A 22-year-old third-year UAB Psychology major, LeAynn Harris, has lived in Birmingham for the majority of her life.

“I am from the Ivory Coast, West Africa. I came here when I was 2 years old,” explained Harris.

Harris is a DACA recipient and says she pays tuition out of pocket.

Harris said she checked her student account after hearing of the tuition increase on social media. She said she was shocked to see her international student tuition had increased.

“What was usually $100 for an international student fee was $1,050,” she said.

UAB sent WBRC a statement:

“UAB values and supports our international students and we deeply appreciate their decisions to make UAB their academic destination of choice. Tuition rates are set as conservatively as possible to ensure that our international students have all the necessary resources. A $75/credit hour tuition increase for international students was approved in June 2019 for the fall 2020 semester.”

This tuition increase supports campus resources offered to all international students and reflects the fact that international students do not pay certain state and federal taxes that support a public institution like UAB. The tuition increase will remain for international students, and UAB remains highly competitive with tuition for international students.

The tuition increase was mistakenly billed to some students for whom it was not intended – international citizens who have in-state residency. We are working to fix this and will communicate with affected students who will not be charged the international tuition rate.”

Harris was adamant she paid all local, state, and federal taxes through her job and that she falls into the latter category; but she said her tuition cost had not been modified to reflect her status.

“There are other students who are stepping forward saying, ‘Hey, I’m a DACA recipient. I’ve been here my whole life. This is ridiculous. I didn’t know there were more people in the same situation and it’s sad,” Harris said.

WBRC followed up with UAB about Harris’ tuition cost, a spokesperson said, ”The Office of International Student and Scholar Services is reaching out to students like LeAynn to provide updates and clarification.”

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