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Alhambra high schools may soon be open to foreign students — for a fee

Foreign students could soon receive a visa abroad that would allow them to attend Alhambra high schools — for a fee of $9,000 a year.

Alhambra schools have applied for certication for the Student Exchange and Visitor Program, through which foreign students would be elligible to receive a one-year visa from abroad. More than 30 other school districts in California, including Arcadia and Los Angeles, already participate in the program. 

This would not affect foreign-born students who are already local residents. More than 1,000 newly arrived immigrant students currently attend Alhambra high schools, constituting about five percent of enrollment. These students, as local residents, would still be able to attend for free regardless of their legal status. But young people living abroad who want to get a U.S. education would get the opportunity to study in Alhambra.

To be eligible for the student visa, the applicant would have to be under 18 years old, have not graduated from high school in their home county, and must pay tuition to the public school. The tuition amount would represent the non-subsidized cost of education.

Deputy Superintendent, Harold Standerfer calculated that the non-subsidized cost of tuition for the Alhambra school district was approximately $9,000 a year. The deputy superintendent noted that other schools districts within Southern California that charge anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000 a year for tuition.

“The idea of collecting tuition is to offset the cost of educating the student,” Standerfer said, emphasizing that it is not aimed as a money maker for the district. Also, based on the experience of other school districts the students using the program will probably be low. LAUSD, which is a much bigger district, had about 30 students enrolled through the program last year, Standerfer said.

Once AUSD's application is reviewed, a representative from Immigration and Customs Enforcement will do an on-site visitation to inspect the school. Assuming the inspection process is complete, AUSD would be certified to admit foreign students.

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