COLORADO SPRINGS — As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, some Ukrainian students are worried about their loved ones.
According to the Institute of International Education, there are 1700 studying at colleges and universities across the U.S. 877 are undergraduate students, 529 graduate students, 48 non-degree students, and 285 individuals on Optional Practical Training.
"It is unbelievable. I did not expect this to happen, and you can ask anyone nobody expected this. It was kamikaze actful from the very beginning," said Yaroslav Balytskyi, University of Colorado Colorado Springs Graduate student.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Balytskyi has continued to study for his PHD in Physics at UCCS.
"I asked my mother if I should come back, but my wife was very unhappy with the idea. She was like you're here and I have a F2 visa (a non-immigrant temporary permit for the immediate family of F1 Student Visa holders) and I don't have a driver's license. It would be very difficult," said Balytskyi. "They were like all of the men in the family are already on the frontlines so you should be responsible for your family and PHD."
Balytskyi expects to finish his PHD program in about a year, and the Institute of International Education is helping make it happen. He is one of two UCCS Ukrainian students receiving $2,500 to finish his education. The IIE-Emergency Student Fund for Ukraine has supported 228 grantees totaling $646,516 in funds for students at risk.
"We haven't spent it yet. We just have $2,500 and thinking about what to do with it because there may be unexpected expenses," said Balytskyi. "Tuition is the main problem. We just don't spend it anywhere for now."
He relies on grant funding to fund the cost of his education. If he doesn't get more grants, the extra funds could come in handy.
"This year I was just lucky because we got an award. We got an award that covered my tuition for this year but I don't know what will happen in September," said Balytskyi.
In the meantime, Balytskyi is staying positive for his family here, and his family a world away.
"Why should I not be happy. My wife is pregnant, life is good," said Balytskyi.
For information on how you can donate and support the IIE programs, visit this website.