Payson To Charge Tuition For Foreign Exchange Students

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Foreign exchange students will no longer enjoy a free ride from the Payson school district.

The school board recently voted to charge foreign exchange students a $5,000 tuition fee.

The vote represents a change in policy. Until now, the district allowed foreign exchange students to attend Payson High School (PHS) without charging tuition. The trade off for the free tuition — only three spaces could be filled. That policy changes with this vote for tuition, the board will now allow unlimited spaces for students. The only limitation on foreign exchange students will be how many Rim Country families can take in a student.

Superintendent Casey O’Brien reported in the meeting that the Round Valley school district, which has similar enrollment numbers to Payson, has 18 foreign exchange students attending this year paying $5,000 per student. That has brought in more than $80,000, said O’Brien.

“That amount of tuition would pay for teachers,” said O’Brien.

Tuition from the foreign exchange students would come directly from the EF Foundation to the Payson Unified School District (PUSD), not from the state as most funds do.

Edie Miller, the local coordinator for the Education First Foundation, initiated the conversation of tuition for foreign exchange students last year.

“When I kept reading in the paper about the budget troubles of the schools, I brought this to the board’s attention,” said Miller.

The school board asked to delay any decision until it had time to review state statutes, said Miller. When she heard the school board had done its research, she decided to try again.

She found success with the recent vote.

“Doors seem to be opening up to me now,” said Miller.

The only limitation on how many students Miller may place depends on how many families she may recruit as host families. Already for school year 2012-13, Miller has one student placed who will pay tuition. Grandfathered in before the school board vote, three other foreign exchange students will attend PHS for the 2012-13 school year.

Miller explained that the exchange students’ parents pay for EF to place them, monitor their progress and host four trips per year. On top of those costs, the parents of foreign students pay for transportation to the U.S. and a monthly allowance for clothing, entertainment and personal supplies.

Host families are only responsible for room and board. If they wish, they may take their student on family trips or pay for outings, said Miller.

The EF Foundation is controlled by the U.S. State Department.

EF has a thorough application process for both students and host families, said Miller.

If Rim Country families are interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, please contact Miller at: fralyntam@gmail.com or (928) 951-4871.

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