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.”

USF Provides Safe Opportunity to Study Abroad

Studying abroad has always been on a typical student’s college bucket list. However, is studying abroad still considered safe during today’s times?

Adam Hardy, a study abroad ambassador for USF seems to thinks so.

“USF is one of the very few if not the only university in Florida that has two 24/7 risk and security officers,” Hardy said. “Basically they are dedicated around the clock to monitor everything from political climate to small logistical things like, let’s pick this location because it has this amount of mileage from x police stations.”

Not only do study abroad ambassadors do extensive research on locations to keep students safe, they also hold seminars to help prepare students for some of the possible effects of studying abroad like reverse culture shock.

“I do believe that studying abroad is safe. It’s a cool experience you get to meet new people and get out of your comfort zone”  Courtney Wise said.

Wise is a USF student that has studied abroad in Greece. If given another opportunity to do so, Wise said she would definitely study abroad again.

For more information about studying abroad through USF, visit the Education Abroad office located on the third floor of the Marshall Student Center.

Education Abroad makes international study a reality for USF students

Study abroad is an experience that few students are taking advantage of. Approximately 10 percent of undergraduates in the United States study abroad, according to the Institute of International Education.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity that so many students bypass just because of so many common myths like it’s expensive, or it’s not for me, or it’s not for my major,” Chris Haynes, student program coordinator for USF Education Abroad, said. “I feel like if they can come in and talk with me or talk with some of our GloBull Ambassadors who have been there and done that, we can really make this experience a reality. They also see the value in it.”

Education Abroad is working to improve the number of students who study abroad. They have teamed up with USF Career Services to inform people about the benefits.

“For an employer standpoint, we generally look for the whole person,” USF career consultant Doug Meyn said. “Yes, they may have had an internship, yes they may have had study abroad, but more importantly, what do those experiences mean? In other words, on a resume, I don’t like to just see, ‘I did this study abroad.’ OK, what did that mean to you? What did you learn from it? How does that make you a more well-rounded person?”

USF offers a wide variety of programs for its students, with over 100 Education Abroad trips in over 25 countries. Each program’s itinerary has a mix of scheduled activity and free time to explore. The aim is for students to be able to take away a unique cultural experience.

“The whole point is to get students onto the next level, whether that be in their professional careers or in graduate school,” Haynes said. “Study abroad is really a great stepping stone to make their resumes and their applications as competitive as possible. I think that’s something that I hope one day all students consider.”

Education abroad, not so foreign anymore

The University of South Florida is more globally connected than ever before. This year, USF Education Abroad ushered in over a thousand international students. With 25 programs to choose from, more and more USF students are going overseas.

“We have grown in our diversity of programs and our diversity of students in participation, and we have also just simply grown in number of students we’re sending,” said James Pulos, the Associate Director of Education Abroad.

The Education Abroad office was not always the big program that it is today. Before the 1980’s, international programs were singularly organized by professors and staff. Over the decades, the independent programs unified to become what is known today as Education Abroad. Prior to this, the office was called Study Abroad. Before that it was International Programs, and earlier Travel Study.

Today, USF is sending and receiving students from all over the globe. This semester there are students from universities in England, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, and Spain.

International students choose USF for multiple reasons.

Danish exchange student, Aske H. Muller chose USF for the weather and academics. “I wanted to live in a warm place, and a nice climate so I looked up Florida and California. Actually, USF was my first priority. I didn’t know it before I started looking into it, but it just seemed like a cool university.”

The exchange experience is different for each student, but the ultimate reward is creating global citizens within USF.

“Watching a student return from that and say, in the most positive and life-changing way” Pulos said, in regards to his favorite part of working with Education Abroad. “I have been changed and transformed, and I will carry this experience with me not for the remainder of the summer, not for five years, but for the rest of my life.”

Photos: Students adjust to life in America

Traveling from the University of Exeter in England, Alexa Carter, 20, and Freya Owen, 20, are attending USF for a year studying abroad. Carter and Owen take pride in not forgetting their home country in their day-to-day routine as they live temporarily in America with the hopes to come out of the experience more culturally aware.

Traveling from the University of Exeter in England, Alexa Carter, 20, and Freya Owen, 20, are attending the University of South Florida for a year studying abroad.

Carter and Owen take pride in not forgetting their home country in their day-to-day routine as they live temporarily in America.