M’sian students in a bind

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian students studying in the United States are feeling the squeeze of the high cost of living and slight increase in tuition fees following the strengthening of the US dollar.

University student, Ahmad Zul Hakim Ahmad Afdzal, 22, said the most visible increase was the prices of daily goods such as eggs, which had seen a steady rise for quite a while.

“Even the simplest things like eggs have gone up from 99 cents per carton when I first arrived to $2.49 a carton now,” he said when contacted yesterday.

The Chemical Engineering student said he took a part-time job as a quality control lab technician to boost his savings.

“This is more towards increasing my savings during rainy days. I think the allowance given by my sponsors is actually enough,” said Ahmad Zul Hakim, who is studying at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

The US Federal Reserve’s move to reduce inflation in the US by raising interest rates has caused the depreciation of the ringgit, leading to concerns over hiking of prices and cost of imported goods.

The interest rate increases have pumped up the value of the US dollar, which has caused implications in both rich and poor countries.

Another student, Nadiah Mohd Zamri, 20, said her daily expenses were still about the same but the food at the restaurants near her place had all gradually gone up in price.

“Based on my observation, the difference is much bigger for smaller businesses and restaurants.

“But bigger stores like supermarket chain Walmart and Target have successfully managed to keep their prices about the same,” she added.

However, she said her annual tuition fees might have gone up between 3% and 4% for her university due to the currency changes.

“I am on a scholarship and the fixed monthly allowance that I receive is currently sufficient.

“But most of us Malaysian students here are working part-time to have extra savings and disposable cash.

“It can be pretty tight to solely live off the allowance without working part-time, but this also depends on the person’s spending outside of university and other basic needs,” said Nadiah, who is studying at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Private university student Aryana Shankar, 21, who is studying business in California, said she had applied for part-time work at her university.

“That has helped me manage my basic daily expenses.

“However, I am worried for my parents who would need to fork out extra money for my fees next semester.

“I really do hope that things will get better and the ringgit will stabilise soon or else it is going to get a little tough,” she noted.

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