International Freshmen Get Travel Funds

Travel allowances for freshmen international students on financial aid will double in light of the upcoming January Term, Associate Director of Financial Aid Janet Irons said yesterday.

“The decision was that we would include two trips home for freshman international students so that they could be home for the long winter break,” she said.

While international students on financial aid who are upperclassmen will continue to receive an annual travel allowance to cover one round-trip ticket, freshmen will receive an allowance for two, said Director of Financial Aid Sally C. Donahue.

According to Irons, students were notified of their travel allowances in their award letters at the beginning of the semester. But many students were not aware of this change.

Moni A. Trac ’13 said that she believes she currently receives an annual Financial Aid Office travel allowance for only one round-trip. Though Trac hadn’t heard of any changes, she said that any increase in travel allowance would make it easier for her to visit her home country of Cambodia.

“As an international student, it makes you very sad to see everyone going home for holidays like Thanksgiving when you’re half way around the world,” Trac said.

Irons said that the FAO has traditionally expected students to remain with friends over break.

Other international students did not intend to use the increased allowance for J-Term travels. Kidus T. Asfaw ’13, said he knew of the two round-trip travel allowances but will not return to his home in Ethiopia in January. Instead, Asfaw will visit relatives in the United States.

According to Donahue, the funding for this increased travel allowance comes from adjustments in the FAO scholarship budget, which is re-evaluated every fiscal year.

“We do a travel survey every fall where we look at a lot of information about the cost of travel and set the allowances towards travel,” Donahue said.

The FAO, however, does not decide travel allowances on a student-by-student basis.

“It would be impossible to administer,” Donahue said. Instead, the FAO uses results from the survey to determine grant allowances based on where students live. All students on financial aid who are from the same area receive the same allowance.

The travel allowance is granted to “all [international] students receiving financial aid,” Donahue said, and “is included into the cost of attendance and deducted from the expected parent contribution.”

—Staff writer Christian B. Flow contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Manning Ding can be reached at ding3@fas.harvard.edu

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