SAIT hikes fees for international students nearly 60% in some cases

SAIT is hiking tuition fees for most of its international students — in some cases nearly 60 per cent this year — prompting one U.S. student to say foreigners are being targeted unfairly.

'It almost feels unethical or something,' says U.S. student after $5K increase in tuition

American student Jennifer Drew says she got a letter in July outlining huge increases in the cost of her SAIT education. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

SAIT is hiking tuition fees for most of its international students — in some cases nearly 60 per cent this year — prompting one U.S. student to say foreigners are being targeted unfairly. 

Jennifer Drew is about to start her second year in SAIT's professional cooking program.

The U.S. resident had built a budget based on the initial fee breakdown provided by the school, but in July she received a letter stating her fees were going up by $500 per class, adding $5,000 to her tuition costs this school year.

"It almost feels unethical or something — you go into a major financial commitment, and then halfway through you are told you should pay this," Drew told CBC News.

"What options do you have really?"

Drew said she was told she could either take fewer classes, apply for a line of credit or look for scholarships to cover the increased cost.

The two-year professional cooking program fee rose from $26,600 for both years to $37,010, an increase of 39 per cent. A 10-month dental assistant program increased 55 per cent from $13,620 to $21,181 this year. The medical radiologic technology two-year program jumped 56 per cent from $27,171 to $42,393.

SAIT refused to do an interview but said in a statement Wednesday, the institution makes sure taxpayers are not subsidizing international students. (Google Maps)

SAIT declined an interview, but in a statement said the increases are meant to recover the costs of delivering programs to international students, taking into account the rising costs of food, for example, in the cooking program.

"Fees vary according to program for both international and domestic students. As a publicly funded institution, SAIT is responsible to ensure there is no burden to the taxpayers of Alberta to deliver programs to international students," spokesperson Anika Van Wyk said.

Drew said that doesn't make sense.

"I don't understand why, as an international student, the cost recovery would be so much greater than it would be for a domestic student," she said.

The Alberta government froze tuition fees for domestic students for a two-year period shortly after it was elected last year.