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An accessible education for international students

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Maria Ramos Pacheco

At one point, the idea of finishing my bachelor’s degree in a U.S. university became an unreachable goal due to the high costs that come with being an international student until I learned about UTEPPrograma de Asistencia Estudiantil (PASE), Program of Student Assistance in English, which allows Mexican citizens to pay in-state tuition 

After I obtained my associate’s degree in communication new media from Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, the idea of applying to universities was a nightmare as I added up tuition and living expenses which ranged from about $10,500 to $45,000 per semester. 

According to data collected in 2018 by the College Board, the average price for international students per year, with fees included, as a full-time student was $26,290.  

The Texas resident’s cost, without fees, ranges from nearly $3,400 to $3,800 per semester; this cost can be paid by PASE recipients. Meanwhile, for international students, the cost ranges from about $9,600 to $10,000. The difference between these two illustrates the significant benefit that comes with UTEP’s PASE. 

After the admission process, prospective students can apply for PASEwhich takes about two to three weeks to get approved or denied, according to the university’s Office of International Programs and Study AbroadOnce approved, students receive the paperwork to apply for their visa  another long and expensive process that needs to be completed in order to be able to study in the U.S 

Once I had my visa and all my paperwork ready to move to El Paso, I have to admit that I was not too excited. Living on the border did not look very appealing to me but I knew that this was my only option. 

If I look back at all the things I have gained after enrolling at UTEP, taking advantage of PASE and life on the border, I truly believe my perception has changed and I’ve only been here since January of this year. 

I am going to be able to graduate without a debt which is a huge challenge for many students these days. The U.S. Federal Reserve states that there are 44.7 million Americans with student debt. 

I am finishing my degree in a U.S. institution with an R1 designation, meaning that it’s a university that produces quality research, and I am gaining hands-on experience in my field as a journalist writing for The Prospector and Minero Magazine, both student media publications at UTEP 

met presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke in one of my classes last semester, attended a workshop by people from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and will soon have a discussion with the man behind BlacKkKlansman, Ron Stallworth. 

I can’t wait to see what my senior year will hold for me as a Miner. 

All of these experiences in less than a year, plus the advantage of being able to cross the border and be in Mexico are some of the perks of living here. I get to study and be close to home, so I can visit family and friends practically every week. 

am confident that UTEP is committed to Mexican students by making their dreams affordable and accessible, as I have learned from their support first-hand 

For more information about program PASE, visit the Office of International Students at UTEP.  

Maria Ramos Pacheco may be reached at [email protected] 

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An accessible education for international students