BEIRUT: Surging tuition fees have never been a problem for students at the Lebanese International University. The academic institution has, since its inception, offered a variety of financial aid programs for students eager to learn but unable to afford it.The private university was established in April 2001 as the Bekaa University with campuses in the western Bekaa Valley and Beirut.
Since 2003 it has established seven more campuses in areas across Lebanon under the name of the Lebanese International University, part of a wider effort to make the institution a national one with a presence in all six administrative districts.
LIU also sought to build on its mission of giving first generation students access to higher education, says Financial Aid Director Wael Ayoub Salloum, helping people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to join the professional workforce.
Since 2006, LIU has also established four campuses in Yemen, one in Mauritania and one in Senegal.
LIU’s financial aid program, which has allowed a large number of gifted students to continue their studies, requires good academic standing both in terms of high school averages and the LIU placement test, says Salloum.
The second issue taken into account is the economic status of the prospective student.
The Lebanese International University also offers a special scholarship program for high school students in the form of annual competitions.
Grades at the university are based on an American system, and each curriculum is based on a certain number of credit hours.
LIU has also been able to collaborate with other universities across the globe to create a successful transfer system. Partner schools include Ohio University and Montana State University in the United States, Kaunas University of Medicine in Lithuania, Worms University of Applied Sciences and RWTH Aachen University in Germany, the Euro-Mediterranean University in Slovenia, and Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic.
In 2012, LIU provided a budget of more than $17 million in assistance to its students in campuses in Lebanon and abroad, Salloum said. It also offers students with distinguished grades a full scholarship.
One such student is Yehya Nasser, 23, who transferred from the Lebanese University to LIU to study computer and communications engineering.
Because he had a high grade point average at his previous university, he received a full scholarship and now studies for free. He has a 3.7 GPA, and as long as he keeps it that way, which he says is more than feasible, he can keep learning for free.
“I could not have been able to learn were it not for the financial aid program,” Nasser says. “Honestly, economically speaking, I would not have been able to continue [my studies].”
Nasser gushes about how much he loves his major, which enabled him to combine his love of electronics, computers and communications.
“I am learning for free, and I’m not wasting my time,” he says with a smile.
The financial aid programs are all free of charge, and the option of scheduling the tuition with monthly payments gives both the students and their parents assurance, Salloum says, with tuition divided into four payments per semester or ten payments per year if they are registered for summer courses.
Students on the university’s sports teams, such as 21-year-old Hussein Ayoub, also receive financial assistance.
Ayoub, who completed his high school studies in the United Arab Emirates, decided to go to college in Lebanon as he found the quality of education better and fees cheaper. He is currently majoring in management information systems at the LIU School of Business.
He received aid covering 30 percent of his tuition, which was upped to 40 percent when he joined the Eagles, the university’s soccer team. He needs to keep his GPA over 2.5 to keep his financial aid, which he says is fair.
“When our GPA drops to below 2.5, the coach keeps us on the bench,” he says. “He gives us the time to focus on our studies.”
Ayoub adds that the university takes very good care of its students, and while he says he would not be able to afford the tuition as comfortably if he was not on financial aid, he knows the university would still offer a helping hand.
David, who declined to give his last name, is a senior studying journalism and has been receiving financial aid since his freshman year.
He says the financial aid he receives from LIU has been a great relief for his family, as he has three other siblings.
Like Ayoub, he says the university focuses its attention on its students, something not always prioritized at other private universities in Lebanon.
“[LIU’s] motto is education is for everyone,” David says.
“It’s to teach first and ask for money later.”