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Minerva Central approved to host F-1 exchange students

— U.S. Department of State officials recently gave the Minerva Central School (MCS) approval to start an F-1 foreign exchange student program.

Under this new program, exchange students would pay both tuition and room/board, giving a boost to enrollment while also providing the school with a little extra revenue.

Though the school was only approved two weeks ago, MCS is no stranger to the exchange student business. Its students have been interacting with other cultures since 2008, when Newcomb Central School hosted its first crop of exchange students; Minerva and Newcomb shared a combined sports program. MCS started hosting its own students only a year later. Minerva has also sent students of its own to study abroad through Rotary International’s student exchange program.

All of MCS’s past exchange students studied there under J-1 visas. In a J-1 program, students are not required to pay any sort of fee to the school for their year abroad. They do not earn academic credit for their stay either. The exchange is treated as a cultural and linguistic learning experience rather than an academic one. Under the new F-1 program, students pay tuition ($4,500 per student), but in return they earn academic credit for their efforts. If the student enrolls during their senior year, they can also receive a New York state diploma.

However, MCS Superintendent Timothy Farrell said the decision to transition into F-1 visas wasn’t made just to give the school an enrollment or revenue boost. The “driving force,” as he described it, was to not only increase cultural diversity, but to give MCS students the chance to interact with intelligent young adults from all over, learning from and through each other. Farrell said the school is more than willing to accept more J-1 students, provided he can find families to host them.

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