By Bethaney Lee
In Fall of 2016, City College hosted 920 students from around the world in the International Student Program, which despite large tuition costs, insurance premiums and fees, is delivering a program that international students have deemed rewarding- but costly.
Student’s enrolled in the program with an F-1 visa, which allows the pursuit of academic studies in the United States, are subject to the American Association of Intensive English Program policy that requires mandatory health insurance on all F-1 visa students since 2012.
Study Abroad Programs and International Student Insurance Coordinator, Jill Heffron, said that students may complain of the $822.00 cost for the sixth month coverage offered by the CCSF International Student Insurance Plan, but generally find it to be more affordable than seeking a provider themselves.
Former 2013 F-1 International Students Club Vice President, William Wu, confirms that while the price could be seen as expensive, after reviewing the options himself “acquiring health insurance through Ascension is one of the cheapest ways.”
City College’s provided insurance plan is brokered through Ascension Benefits and Insurance Solutions, which more than ten other Bay Area community college’s also trust as the sole provider of their student’s insurance rates and packages.
“It is standard practice for most colleges and universities to only offer one plan,” Heffron said. “This provides a cost savings, and the benefits of large group enrollment to our students, which might not be available if the student insurance enrollment was distributed across multiple plans.”
Hee Jin Kang, who enrolled in the International Student Program in Fall of 2015, is from South Korea and said, “even though it would have been a helpful resource if I had any sickness, I have never used the insurance. Moreover, I need to pay in every semester, and it is not a cheap price.”
Heffron acknowledges that the cost may seem high to incoming students, but said there is the ability to set up a payment plan, or apply for a waiver of health insurance that can be issued; should the student’s insurance meet the college’s coverage requirements.
“Financial obligations start from the high tuition fee, the mandatory health insurance, and school expenses like books,” Wu said, “but it had been a decent journey while studying at CCSF, because I had the opportunity to meet and experience the diversity that the school holds.”
Kang agreed that “as an international student, I was required to pay too much money, and it affected my decision of where to go,” but ultimately, “compared to other colleges, tuition at CCSF is cheaper, and I am very glad about that.”
Wu said he only used his insurance once while attending City College, contributing to the 2015-2016 academic year, where students filed a total of 2373 claims, receiving medical benefits totaling $1,187,743.00.