An online campaign seeks to help Anne Chumbow (19PH) remain at Emory University and reside legally in the United States as she attempts to raise nearly $30,000 in outstanding tuition costs that she cannot afford.
For her student visa to be renewed, Chumbow, an international student from Cameroon, must be in good standing at Emory by paying her full tuition balance.
Chumbow began her online campaign Jan. 6 after she was unable to cover her Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 tuitions, leaving a total of $29,400 unpaid.
She has raised $18,111 through her GoFundMe page, as of Tuesday night.
Chumbow said that Emory suggested she take a leave of absence while working to collect tuition money. If Chumbow chooses to declare a leave of absence, Chumbow would then have 15 days to leave the U.S. due to her status as an international student before her student visa would expire.
Associate Vice President of Media Relations Nancy Seideman declined to comment, noting that Chumbow is likely “consulting with the appropriate university offices regarding her situation to obtain services, guidance and support.”
Chumbow’s attempts to collect the money through a bank loan or scholarships have been unsuccessful, Chumbow said. Emory Alliance Credit Union grants some loans to international students in Emory’s Goizueta Business School and Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, but because Chumbow is a student in Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH), her loan applications were denied, even with co-signers, she said.
Emory Alliance Credit Union did not respond to a request for comment on Chumbow’s situation. An Emory Alliance Credit Union representative confirmed that it currently considers only Rollins students with a nursing connection eligible for loans and added that it may expand its granting of loans to other Rollins students in the future.
Chumbow said that if she takes Emory’s suggested leave of absence now, she is doubtful that she will be able to generate enough money to return to the U.S. to complete her master’s degree.
If Chumbow cannot raise the tuition money and then declares a leave of absence, she is unsure whether she will return to Cameroon or remain in the U.S. without a student visa.
Chumbow’s story has gained traction through her GoFundMe page and myriad social media posts that have garnered empathy from her colleagues in Rollins, she said. Some people have already approached her to share their own stories of similar situations, Chumbow said, including a fellow student who nearly had to abandon his education in the face of financial troubles.
While Chumbow said she believes Emory is the most welcoming and diverse place she’s been in the U.S., she also said the University should put forth more efforts to support its students, like arranging more work opportunities.
“There needs to be an understanding that when accepting students from around the world, you’re accepting people from all walks of life, not just the wealthy,” Chumbow wrote in a Jan. 23 email. “I would like the school to be more supportive of international students who may find themselves in circumstances like mine,” she wrote.
Chumbow said she does not blame the University for her situation.
“I am not in any way condemning or blaming the school or the administration for what has happened,” Chumbow wrote in a Jan. 22 email to the Wheel. “This is a story through which lessons should be learned. … First by me, and also the school.”
Chumbow came to the U.S. in 2012 and graduated with a nursing degree from Southern University (La.). She knew she would want to continue her education and worked for a year as a registered nurse to save up tuition money for graduate school.
Chumbow then enrolled in the Hubert Department of Global Health at Rollins in 2017, planning to pursue a global health master’s degree with a concentration in community health and development.
After she earns that master’s degree, Chumbow said she hopes to bring quality healthcare to the world’s most vulnerable populations.
Chumbow is optimistic she will be able to stay at Rollins.
“My story is one of someone who is passionate about their dreams and is determined to accomplish their goals,” Chumbow wrote. “I have faith that God will make a way for me where there seems to be no way.”
Richard Chess contributed reporting.