Ukrainian, Russian Students Face Financial Woes in U.S.

"Viktoriia Yevtushenko, a freshman at Pace University, is caught between two worlds. Back home in Ukraine, her country is under siege from hostile Russian forces, which prompted her family to flee, losing their home and business in the process. But in the U.S., life continues as normal on Pace’s New York City campus, thousands of miles from the war," Inside Higher Ed reports. 

..."Ukrainian students, suffering from the shell shock of a ruthless Russian invasion, are a sympathetic case. Donors can empathize with their plight. But that’s less true of Russian students, who don’t necessarily elicit the same kind of sympathy, experts say.

'Some schools are finding it harder to talk to donors about Russian students whose funding has been severely curtailed for fear of political backlash,' said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. 'And Russian students are finding it difficult to afford college in the United States because their currency has lost so much value, or they’ve lost funding or access to funds because of economic sanctions.'

Draeger noted that a central part of the mission of higher education is prompting students to re-examine their worldviews and to think critically. But he feels that colleges are struggling to articulate that message to donors as they seek to support Russian students in particular.

'Where do you draw the lines between holding Russia accountable and students from Russia, who don’t agree with the actions of their home country, accountable?' Draeger said. 'I think that’s probably the new dynamic here when it comes to fundraising, gathering resources and getting a community to circle around and help a group of students who might be in crisis.'"

..."If colleges have the money, Draeger encourages them to tap into it to help affected students.

'If they have the funds, and they’re not restricted, they can try to put together some emergency packages now that would help provide a bridge for students who are experiencing immediate financial distress,' Draeger said. 'But that doesn’t necessarily answer the longer-term question of how they’re going to be able to afford, you know, the school next semester or next year.'"

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Publication Date: 3/30/2022

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