College is a time like no other in the young American’s lifetime. Ripe from adolescence and inundated with choices, students are sold on the idea of possibility as they simultaneously sign up for loans and classes. Eager and willing, these students are shipped cross-country descending onto the college towns of the USA largely underprepared for the significance of their next four years.
Chocked so full of choices that go beyond simply a university and a major, studying abroad has become part of the deluxe, not-sold-separately college bundle that also includes mediocre freshmen roommates and avoiding multiple alcohol citations. While travelling internationally is a remarkable experience that can permanently shape one’s psyche, the costs associated with it are equally permanent. Examining Albion’s own study abroad costs is then a point of discussion for any student who would one day like to find themselves clutching a passport on the way to boarding a transatlantic flight.
Looking at Albion’s cost of studying abroad, many students will find that individual abroad programs are often cheaper than staying on campus for a semester. While this initially may sound like good news for students, Albion recognized in 2007 that it was losing about $2,500 per student who studied abroad and remedied the issue with an “administrative fee.” Deb Peterson, director of off-campus programs, explained that the administrative fee acts as a “catch all” to the financial losses taken from students studying abroad.
“That money goes toward covering some of the costs of setting up off campus programs, [which include] travel to see the programs and any other associated cost,” said Peterson.
At $1,070 the fee seems plausible given its intended use, but though the administrative fee covers those expenses, a 25 percent reduction in applicable merit-based scholarship covers what the fee does not. While 100 percent of need-based scholarships are still available, the reduction of merit-based scholarships to 75 percent of their value is pertinent given that 99 percent of Albion students receive merit-based scholarships.
To try and understand more of the actual numbers, Mark Holbrook, of the Business Office, provided the following clarifying statement:
“The 75% applicable use of merit based scholarships as you call it is because money we pay for off-campus programs all leaves the institution. For example, if a program costs $20,000 for a semester the College then has to pay the program the full $20,000 for each student attending. The average student at Albion actually pays a little more than $10,000 per semester for Tuition, Fees, Room and Board after Albion College aid. That means the College would pay an additional $10,000 from College funds for an off-campus student.”
While the reduction of merit-based scholarships are an important factor, financing an off-campus program does not have to be stressful with numerous internal off-campus scholarships and grants available. In addition to these, searching “study abroad scholarships” online will yield hundreds of results like the prestigious Gilman scholarship. It is largely due to these scholarships that studying abroad has become less of an exclusive experience available to few and more a formative experience available to all.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
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