The many struggles of out-of-state students

Students are outnumbered and over-stressed


(Will Katcher/Daily Collegian)

By Derek Hunter, Collegian Columnist

Transitioning into college is difficult for everyone. The stress of the application and acceptance phases of the college process is hard enough, not to mention the added stress of moving somewhere foreign and completely new. But the stresses don’t end there, as the ever-looming burden of tuition and other finances is always present in the back of students’ minds. Throw in classes, exams, sports, clubs and a job and you’ve created a concoction potent enough to drive a person crazy. In order to escape all the trials and tribulations of college life, many students find solace in their friends and family. Luckily for many of us on the University of Massachusetts campus, myself included, home is pretty close by. We have the luxury of being able to go home almost any weekend of our choosing, see our families and close friends from home and detox from all of that stress for a little bit.

But what about those students who are a little bit further from “home”? How do they deal with the mounting pressures of college stress when the comforts they’ve become accustomed to aren’t anywhere nearby? It can be more challenging than it seems.

On a campus such as this – one that is so homogenously “Massachusetts” – out-of-state and international students can be seemingly forgotten about. The student body is overwhelmingly in-state with 77 percent of undergraduate population from Massachusetts. The other 23 percent of students hail from all around the country as well as other countries around the world. While out-of-state students make up almost a quarter of the student body, that’s a fairly small number in the grand scheme of things. In the freshman class that started attending UMass in fall 2018, 3,500 students are in-state, while 992 are out-of-state and 518 are international. These students represent merely a fraction of the freshman class of over 5,000 people. It’s easy to forget how being far from home can be a huge weight on someone’s shoulders, especially for students trying to cope with being in an unfamiliar place, when those people are so outnumbered.

Finances, too, are another huge burden out-of-state students have to cope with. For in-state students, tuition and fees are $16,278 for the upcoming 2019-20 academic year. For out-of-state and international students, tuition and fees are $35,599 and $37,344, respectively. Total cost of attendance for in-state students comes to $29,876 annually, while out-of-state and international students end up paying $49,197 and $50,942 each year. While many in-state students have their financial issues as well, out-of-state and international students just simply have to pay more. About $20,000 more per year, to be exact. That’s not chump change.

So why does a freshman whose hometown is two hours from campus care about the woes of UMass’ out-of-state population? I’ve seen what the stress can do firsthand.

When moving into my dorm at the beginning of my first semester, I noticed that a lot of my neighbors in my hall were out-of-state. As the semester went on, my friend group grew to become comprised of these neighbors and surprisingly, it was pretty evenly split between out-of-state and in-state students. As I grew closer to them, I began to learn more and more about the financial issues many of them are facing. One of my friends in particular, Zavoun Watts, had what seemed to be an almost insurmountable financial hurdle. He told me about his inability to secure a loan and how it was nearly impossible for him to make a payment plan since it was up to him to pay it alone. Not only did he have financial trouble, but he was also far from his home and family in Alabama. Coupled with the stress of his financial burden and the sheer distance from home, he was unable to get any help and felt stranded. Watts was forced to move back home after his first semester.

Watts’ experience was fairly extreme, but it isn’t uncommon. Many out-of-state students experience similar struggles. My roommate, Jackson Coslit, has had financial issues of his own. A resident of New Jersey, he is closer to home than Watts, yet he still feels the brunt of out-of-state costs and he too can feel stranded when realizing the full scope of his financial issues. Coslit will not be able to attend UMass next year due to the financial struggles he is experiencing.

These students’ experiences represent what many people on campus experience day-to-day. But for students like Watts and Coslit, these experiences don’t disappear when they leave school. They have to deal with paying UMass and other loans back without having even graduated and acquired a degree. The stress carries itself outside of the campus perimeter and into their lives for years to come. These students shouldn’t have to face college wholly unprepared for the struggles they will inevitably have to endure due to their financial situation. There should be some level of assistance, financially and emotionally, when it comes to out-of-state and international students transitioning into college life. College is supposed to be the beginning of your adult life, not the beginning of life-long struggle.

Derek Hunter is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]