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The Truth About Study Abroad

March 9, 2011

When my two daughters were in college they had the opportunity to study abroad. Chesley opted not to study abroad as she was too worried that the electric currency exchange rate would not work for her blow dryer. Lace, on the other hand was very excited and jumped at the opportunity. She spent a summer in South Africa and had a blast. Study abroad is a great way to expand a college education – but it can have implications that students fail to consider. Here’s what parents need to know…

  • How much a study-abroad program costs depends on the policies of your child’s college, not just the price of the program. Foreign colleges often cost less than American schools, but some American colleges insist that their students who study abroad pay full US tuition anyway. That might mean paying $30,000 to attend a foreign school that charges only $5,000. This is full-tuition policy is most common at pricey private American colleges. Most public universities simply pass along the cost of the foreign program, plus some fees. If your child’s college insists on full tuition, ask what policy applies when students enroll in foreign schools during the summer. Your student might not be required to pay inflated rates for summer programs abroad, and  he/she even might be able to earn enough credits during affordable foreign summer sessions to graduate a semester early, meaning that you won’t have to pay for the last semester at the expensive US school.
  • Financial aid varies. Federal financial aid usually can be used to pay study-abroad costs. However, state and private college loans and scholarship rules do vary. There also are scholarships available to help with study-abroad costs. Examples: Rotary Club Ambassadorial Scholarships (go to http://www.rotary.org/, click “students and Youth,” then “Educational Programs,” then “Ambassadorial Scholarships”)…Council on International Educational Exchange scholarships (http://www.clee.org/study/scholarships
  • Credits your child earns overseas might no count toward his degree. Each US college and university has its own policy on the transfer of foreign credits. Confirm with the US school that credits will be transferable. Otherwise an additional semester of education – and tuition – might be needed to graduate.
  • Not all study-abroad locations are safe. Students continue to study abroad in Kenya and Mexico, even though the US Department of State has issued personal-safety travel warnings for those countries. Check the State Department Consular Information Sheets (www.Travel.state.gov/travel) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Notices (www.cdc.gov then click “Travelers’ Health”).
  • Your health insurance might not fully cover your child overseas.  If necessary, supplemental coverage is available from many insurers, including HTH Worldwide (888-243-2358, www.HTHTravelinsurance.com) … CMI Insurance Worldwide (800-586-0753, www.CMI-Insurance.com)… and Cultural Insurance Services International (800-303-8120, www.Culturalinsurance.com).

If you are wanting to send you kids to school and need help with a budget to get them there, then let GAI (www.gunwel.com) help you with that process. It is never too late to start a budget for any of your goals. Give us a call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit. We are open from 8am to 8pm Monday through Friday and 8am to 5pm on Saturdays. See you soon!

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