Studying abroad could be cheaper than you think

David Espo

Students can still use financial aid overseas.

When students first hear the costs to study abroad, most tend to shy away from the idea, assuming they can’t afford it.

Students can still use financial aid overseas

When students first hear the costs to study abroad, most tend to shy away from the idea, assuming they can’t afford it.

But what many overlook are the financial opportunities that can send them overseas.

“Nowadays, it’s so silly to say it’s too expensive because if you check it out, it’s not,” said Kim Chhay, study abroad operations manager for the Office of International Affairs. “If you really want to do it, it’s possible.”

Tara Jackson, financial aid coordinator for study abroad, said students’ financial aid covers some of the costs for certain programs at Kent State.

“Each program is very unique in how the financial aid works because with some programs, students can use their scholarships,” she said, “and in most programs they can use their financial aid (referring to the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid).”

It is important for students to know there is no financial aid specifically set aside for studying abroad, and the costs cannot be fully covered by aid and scholarships, said Yvonna Washington-Greer, assistant director of the Student Financial Aid Office.

“Even though there is a hesitation with the cost, they have to know that there has to be something more brought to the table — a willingness to borrow or getting money from outside sources,” she said.

Students are encouraged to search for scholarships through their departments, on Kent State’s financial aid Web site or through a Google search for study abroad.

Jackson also recommended students talk with their families and look in local newspapers for scholarships.

“The easiest thing I can do is lay out students’ options and discuss what they are, because knowing what the cost is and how they can fund it takes away a lot of their fear,” Jackson said.

Florence and Geneva

The study abroad programs in Florence, Italy, and Geneva are available to all students, but both programs have specific programs with communications, architecture, fashion design and merchandising and interior design.

“When students speak about having Italy on their résumés, they get excited because it speaks loudly on résumés,” Chhay said. “We are living in such a global world today. If you don’t have some type of international experience, you won’t go far.”

Those who study abroad in Florence and Geneva pay Kent State’s tuition and are charged through the Bursar’s Office, Chhay said.

Florence costs about $13,000 for Ohio residents and about $17,000 for non-residents. This includes the program fee, transportation, medical insurance, housing, tuition and field trips to Rome, Mantova, Venice and other venues.

Students must cover the airfare, food and any spending cash on their own.

Maurizio Sabini, program coordinator for the architecture Florence program, said the program offers five scholarships for architecture students and one for interior design students, which vary from $500 to $6,000.

“We try to assist the best we can and highlight the cost benefit, which is amazing,” Sabini said. “We encourage students to work with financial aid and find any possible funding.”

He added students should also look for support in their local communities or within their families.

Junior architectural studies major Krysta Pesarchick studied in Florence in the fall of 2009 and said her experience was “fantastic.”

“I spent about $4,000 or $5,000 out of pocket, but I didn’t really have a set number of what I would bring,” Pesarchick said. “I just tried to budget what I was spending.”

She admitted she was worried about the cost, but she received some financial aid from loans and a few scholarships through the Honors College.

“In all of this, you just can’t put a price on it,” she said. “It’s just one of those opportunities you’re not going to get again the same way and be able to go

to this other community and experience their culture.”

The Geneva program costs about $10,000 for Ohio residents and about $13,000 for non-residents, but the prices vary from year to year, said Ediz Kaykayoglu, special assistant in OIA.

“There are no scholarships specifically for the Geneva program, but there are so many scholarship opportunities out there that students are not aware of,” Kaykayoglu said.

The cost includes the program fee, transportation, orientation and field trips, medical insurance and housing damage deposit.

Housing costs estimate between $4,500 and $5,000, and students are responsible for food and personal expenses.

“Florence and Geneva are the most affordable for their financial aid package, and I would strongly recommend them to all Kent State students,” Chhay said. “With these programs, every price is listed and you know what you’re paying, that way there are no surprises later on.”

National Student Exchange

Jackson said the exchange programs are set up with other institutions overseas. Students pay Kent State’s tuition but pay room and board at the host university.

They are responsible for any fees associated with courses or labs, roundtrip transportation and personal expenses.

France, Spain, Russia, Hong Kong and Germany are some of the countries in the exchange programs, but the total costs depend on the programs and places students choose to go, Kaykayoglu said.

“Loans transfer for tuition, but for costs such as housing, it might not happen because the residence hall is here and you won’t be staying on Kent’s property,” he said.

Financial aid can pay for tuition, room and meal fees if students qualify, and any scholarships acquired at Kent State apply.

The study-abroad programs to England and Northern Ireland are part of the exchange programs, but they are also offered through the Honors College. In these programs, students pay Kent State’s tuition, but they also pay some costs to the host institution.

Those going to Leicester University in England pay between $13,000 and $14,000, Jackson said. This includes the administrative fee, transportation, medical insurance and the semester fee, which offers three options to students, each varying in cost.

Students are responsible for personal expenses, books and extra travel.

The semester at the University of Ulster in Ireland costs anywhere from $10,000 to $11,500, Jackson said. This includes the administrative fee, medical insurance, international transportation and the program fee.

Honors College students can use their scholarships to pay for the trip, and federal and Kent financial aid may apply.

Short-term programs

The faculty-led short-term study abroad programs range in price from $2,000 to $4,000 depending on where students go and for how long, Chhay said.

There are a variety of programs in each department, including trips to Egypt, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Belgium and many more.

Depending on the program, the trips can be yearlong, semester long or just a few weeks.

Third-party providers

If students are not interested in any of the programs offered at Kent State, they can contact a third-party provider, such as another university offering study abroad programs, Chhay said.

To use financial aid, Jackson said the financial aid office has to verify that the classes students take can transfer to their transcripts at Kent State.

In these programs, students can use their federal grants and loans, but state funding and institutional scholarships are not applicable.

“I can’t address enough how much it can teach you, not only academically, but also with the people you interact with on the streets,” Chhay said. “If you keep your mind open to the world and the flexibility to adapt to people around you with different ethnicities, when you come back home you’ll be prepared when tackling anything else in life.”

Contact student finance reporter Courtney Kerrigan at [email protected].