Affordability of education abroad

 

Once the haze of being accepted into the USF in Florence summer abroad program wore off, reality kicked in and showed up asking for payments.

Louise Cardenas, 19, didn’t expect to be in such a financial bind. Finances had never been an issue since she had been receiving aid since her first semester at USF. With no coverage being offered for her trip over the summer months, Cardenas was at a crossroads.

“I don’t think that abroad programs are affordable for the average student  trying to minimize unnecessary spending,” Cardenas said. “The only way to realistically study abroad is by paying out of pocket because you can’t count on scholarships or financial aid.”

The USF Education Abroad office has well-established programs in over 25 countries giving students a variety of choices, but many shy away from the thought of even applying because studying abroad is associated with being unaffordable.

Students are encouraged to seize the opportunity to take anywhere from a semester to a year abroad. While the motivation for studying abroad for each student is different, the most common reason is for the experience and introduction of a new culture.

Students already hold the financial responsibilities of paying up to $6,410 for tuition alone not including housing, books or miscellaneous expenses. Any additional financial expenses could be difficult to fund.

Each program cost varies on the location and the amount of time spent on the program. Most semester programs are estimated on the higher end of about $5,000 for tuition and housing. When adding on airfare, passport fees, books and travel money, the price dramatically increases. Students must consider whether the experience is worth the stress it could bring financially.

Jim Pulos, the associate director of Education Abroad, has encountered many students who believe that abroad programs are cost prohibitive.

“It’s a common misconception,” said Pulos. “We have designed our programs to be within the range of  most students’ finances.”

In some cases the costs of a program can result in being around the same price or cheaper than a normal semester. Pulos recommended that all students seek financial assistance.

The office holds regular funding sessions inviting presenters from other on-campus scholarship offices. Students are also eligible for grants, loans and scholarships open exclusively to students studying internationally. In the past, as much as $34,550 have been given away in scholarships.

Programs like USF in Florence are prime examples of the scholarship exclusivity offered. The Florence School of Record scholarship is a $1,000 award available to 35 of the programs committed students.

USF abroad offices are dedicated to making the programs affordable, but each student’s eligibility varies. Many students don’t qualify for grants or miss scholarships due to limited awards. One students experience could be entirely out of pocket while another may never know the stress of the financial side of spectrum.

Irene John, 20, was one of the fortunate students who had her expenses covered by the George W. Jenkins Scholarship. John traveled to Costa Rica last spring and has made plans to apply for another program.

“If I didn’t have my scholarship, I would still choose to study abroad,” John said. “The money is nothing in comparison to the experience you get to have.”

The response from students who have participated in abroad programs is conclusive in the money being worth the experience.

Cardenas happens to be one of the 35 students in her program who have received the scholarship award. Although it doesn’t calm her worries about the financial expenses she’s still dealing with, she is at ease knowing that the abroad offices do indeed offer assistance as advertised.

“Money plays a huge part, but it isn’t everything,” Cardenas said . “I would encourage everyone to apply regardless of their funds because like they say this is once in a lifetime.”

From Bikes to Books

 

One clear evening last February, amid the crowd of screaming fans and the stench of race fuel permeating the stadium, Bodie Colangelo walked away from his professional motocross career to focus on a new dream.

Having been dropped from his sponsors earlier that year, Colangelo was considered a privateer racer. Privateers paid for the sport out of pocket. With endless medical bills and large sums of money contributing to his profession, the wrist injury he suffered at that Supercross Arena competition had been the last straw.

“I realized the risks outweighed the reward,” Colangelo said. “I was constantly getting hurt and the money just wasn’t there.”

His success throughout his career had left him unprepared of what steps to take if it had ended. Attending a university after graduation had not been a consideration. The goal had been to focus on riding but Colangelo was forced to reconsider school as option after his injury.

“I felt if I wasn’t going to race anymore that I would go to school and pursue a degree in business,” Colangelo said. “At that point I was just ready to take it easy.”

Colangelo enrolled at Hillsborough Community College in the spring and has been focusing on completing his degree. The slower paced lifestyle gave light on how years of riding have affected his health.

“I’ve broken so many bones they have my racing jersey hanging in USF’s Morsani Center,” Colangelo said. “When the weather changes my bones will ache and I have constant back pain.”

David Colangelo, who served as a father, coach, mechanic and trainer while his son was a racer had also benefited from the change of pace. There were no days off between working as a supervisor at a Water Treatment Plant and traveling for races.
“Every sacrifice I made was worth it to see his dream come true,” David Colangelo said. “The focus is to now see him through school.”

On nostalgic days, Colangelo will take his bike out for a spin. He isn’t a stranger to his old racing track where he spent much of his adolescent years. Unable to stay away from hobbies that bring him a thrill, he has since shown interest in muscle cars and racecars.

Brandi Colangelo, the racers mother, has a hard time seeing her son in any dangerous sport. Staying home with the youngest sibling while her husband and son were away at races gave her plenty of time to worry. Now that the racing days are behind them she now faces a new wave of fear with her son’s new obsession for muscle cars.

“The first thing he did after he stopped racing was buy muscle car,” Brandi Colangelo said. “I don’t know what’s worse, worrying about him on that bike or worrying about him in that car.”

With the continued support of his family, Colangelo is set to graduate in the spring of 2018. Unsure of where his life will go now that racing isn’t the dream he’s following, he was hopeful for a bright future.

“Things didn’t go as planned for me but I know that somehow I’ll end up back on that track,” Colangelo said.

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