SPOKANE, Wash.-- Educators say about 2,000 Libyan students who attend college in the United States are losing financial support from their home government.
The Spokesman-Review reports the Libyan government stopped funding the Libyan-North American Scholarship Program after the U.S. froze about $30 billion of its assets.
Nearly 40 Libyan students at Washington State University are among an estimated 2,000 nationwide who no longer will receive money for education and living expenses from the Libyan government at the end of the month.
Students who can't afford to pay expenses out of their own pocket could lose their visas. They can seek temporary protection, apply for asylum, or return to Libya. But those opposed to Col. Moammar Gadhafi's regime fear retribution if they go back.
SPOKANE, Wash. – About 2,000 Libyan students who attend college in the U.S. will lose financial support after Libya stopped funding a scholarship program when the U.N. froze about $30 billion of that country's assets.
Among the students is Abdalhamid Alkar, one of about 40 Libyan students at Washington State University in Pullman who will see their government support end on May 31 unless the situation changes.
"This is a big problem for all of us," Alkar said Friday. "We don't have any way to support our living here."
Student visa requirements prohibit the students from working, and lack of support from their government means the students will be left without money for tuition and living expenses.
Alkar actually graduated in May in veterinary medicine but still needs support from the Libyan government while he waits several months for permission to get a job.
"I have no funds for that," Alkar said.
Various groups at Washington State University are trying to raise money to help the Libyan students, said Darin Watkins, a WSU spokesman.
A letter sent to Libyan-North American Scholarship Program students at WSU included a list of area social service organizations, including the state Department of Social and Health Services and a food bank.
"At this point of uncertainty, you must begin planning for the scholarship program discontinuation," WSU Provost Warwick M. Bayly wrote in the letter. "Unfortunately, WSU is not able to provide stipends, tuition scholarships, free or deferred rent, or health insurance to students and families who had previously received funding" through the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
Kemale Pinar, director of U.S. Operations for the Canadian Bureau for International Education, which distributes the funds, said she could not comment on the problems.
The CBIE sent a letter to its students last week warning that it was running out of funds.
"It is important for CBIE to prepare for a scenario in which we do not receive new funding by May 31 and therefore we are currently exploring ways to pay for June health insurance premiums and monthly living allowances,'" the letter said.
In March, the U.N. froze Libyan assets in an attempt to keep them from Gadhafi.
The Libyan-North American Scholarship Program is a joint collaboration between Libya, Canada and host universities in Canada and the United States.
Candace Chenoweth, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars at WSU, said university leaders are meeting with students to discuss legal options that would allow them to remain in the U.S., if the funding remains frozen.
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