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Rupee value may hurt international students

Financial aid packages for international students will not change, despite the declining Indian currency

As some students express concern over the falling value of the Indian rupee relative to the U.S. dollar, the University will continue its efforts to attract prospective Indian students as planned, said Dean of Admission Jim Miller ’73.

Emerging market currencies such as the rupee have been declining in value relative to the dollar since June, when the Federal Reserve announced it would phase out its quantitative easing program meant to stimulate the economy.

Aashay Sheth ’16, who transferred this semester from New York University, expected the cost of living to be lower in Providence. But with his home currency in India losing value, he has found Providence to be more expensive.

“It’s only when you add the money on a day-to-day basis that you realize how much dearer the money has gotten,” he said.

The University currently admits international students on a need-aware basis. Starting in 2018, the Financial Aid Office will review need on an annual basis for international students, which Director of Financial Aid Jim Tilton said should incorporate a consideration of the possible fluctuations in exchange rates.

“So far we haven’t heard very much,” Tilton said. “But as we come closer to early decision and regular decision, we might start having more in-depth conversations.”

Financial aid packages for current students would remain at their original value.

“Although we aren’t able to change their financial aid awards, we (would) work with the student and the family to think of alternatives they might be able to take advantage of,” he added.

Sheth said the alternatives, such as outside scholarships, are a “hassle” because it is difficult to prove change in need over time, since currency value changes can be temporary.

The Herald previously reported that the number of international students from India has increased following an effort to increase the University’s engagement with the country. Miller said the Admission Office does not plan to modify any of its recruitment efforts directed at students in emerging market countries.

“Currency fluctuations aren’t unusual, and currency markets can be pretty volatile,” Miller said. “So it’s hard for us to tell when falling or rising currency values will begin or end.”

He added that though it is too early to tell what effect the market will have on applications from abroad, the University remains committed to meeting financial aid needs, “whatever that need may be.”

“My parents occasionally send my tuition from their savings account in India,” said Deesha Misra, a student from the Rhode Island School of Design whose family’s assets are split between India and Bahrain. “But they wouldn’t think of doing that, assuming the current value of the rupee.”


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