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The University of Michigan Board of Regents recently passed the 2019-2020 FY budget, which includes a new fee for international students studying on an F or J visa in Ann Arbor. International students studying on an F or J visa will be assessed a $500 per term fee beginning in Fall 2019. In response to the considerable amount of confusion regarding this new fee, GEO representatives attended a forum with the Dean of Rackham seeking answers and clarification for members.  You can read the University’s updated FAQ about the fee here.

Will I have to pay the fee when I am a GSI or GSSA?

No. In accordance with the GEO contract Article  XX, GSIs and GSSAs “will pay no fees other than Michigan Student Assembly, school and college government, course fees and lab fees, and Registration fee; the amount of the Registration fee assessed to the Employee shall be no more than eighty dollars ($80.00).” GEO is determined to maintain this provision during contract negotiations, which will begin in November 2019.

Will I have to pay the fee when I am NOT a GSI or GSSA?

Maybe. The university has stated that UM’s Provost Office will cover the fee for PhD students in good standing  in accordance with their offers of admission, at least for the 2019-2020 academic year. It is not clear what will happen after that. The university has stated that the university will cover the fees for PhD students on fellowship, but it is not clear which fellowships are included. International Masters students who are not employed as a GSI or GSSA and all international undergraduate students will be responsible for paying the $500 fee for every semester they are enrolled. If you are employed as a GSRA, your department may pay the fee for you. If you are funded by an external grant, it may  cover the fee for you. We encourage you to reread your offer of admission  closely and reach out to your supervisor and department administrator to gain clarity on your specific situation as soon as possible. 

Will I have to pay the fee during Spring/Summer terms?

Maybe. International students who are enrolled in classes during the Spring and/or Summer terms will be assessed a reduced fee of $250 per term. You may be responsible for paying this fee if you are not employed as a GSI or GSSA during the Spring and/or Summer term in which you are enrolled, or are not otherwise covered by your department. International PhD students in the process of defending and submitting their dissertation during the Spring/Summer terms may be assessed the fee. We encourage you to reach out to your supervisor and department administrator to gain clarity on your specific situation before you enrol in a Spring/Summer class. 

Will I have to pay the fee during the years that I do not have guaranteed funding in my offer letter (i.e. sixth or seventh years)?

Maybe. The university has stated that the fees for PhD students will be covered in accordance with the terms of their offers of admission and that the university will cover the fees for PhD students on fellowship.  It is unclear whether or not international PhD students will be responsible for paying the fee during the terms that they do not have guaranteed funding and are not employed as a GSI/GSSA. 

Can the university guarantee that PhD students won’t have to pay the fee in future terms?

No. 

What is the origin of this new fee?

The fee was recommended by the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Martin Philbert, and approved by the Regents on June 20, 2019 in order to “raise general fund revenue” to support “the continuing success” of international students.     

Are there other examples of fees only paid by certain demographic groups in the student body?

No.

Can the university guarantee that this fee will not increase in future years?

No. 

What will the money be used for?

The university has stated that the revenue from the fee “will be allocated to help cover the cost of sustaining and enhancing services to support the success of international students and compliance and reporting requirements.” However, there are very few additional details about how the university plans to allocate the estimated $3-5 million the fee will generate annually. The university has stated that the International Center (IC), which has a budget of less than $1.5 million, will not receive additional funding, but that the IC will be “ involved in helping to determine the best use of these funds.” It is unclear when such a plan will be made public, if at all. There has been no consultation with international student groups about the need for further funding or the use of these funds, and it is unclear when any consultation will take place, if at all. Despite the lack of information demonstrating need by international students, intended use, or clarity over which students will be affected, the university administration approved the $500 international student fee for Fall 2019.

This is Terrible! How can I get involved?

  • Sign this petition to be delivered to the Provost’s Office demanding transparency. Share it on social media and with your colleagues. 
  • Help us gather information about how this fee might impact you and how the money should be used by filling out this anonymous survey. All feedback welcome, regardless of status. 
  • For more information, join us for information sessions on September 12th at 7pm or September 19th at 1pm at the Rackham Amphitheatre, Fourth Floor
  • Email internationalchair@geo3550.org to get join our working group or learn more