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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Studying abroad has its price

While the budget crisis may make students want to flee the country, students traveling with the Education Abroad Program (EAP) will face added costs beyond the 32 percent hike.

The UC Office of the President has been cutting funding to EAP for several years, transforming the EAP’s budget from one based on general funding to one supported almost exclusively by student fees.

“EAP is no longer supported entirely by the top slice at the Office of the President, but it’s funded by the students who attend its programs,” said Daniel Greenstein, vice provost for Academic Planning, Programs and Coordination.

In the approved budget for 2010-2011, the UCOP’s funding to EAP will decrease from $4.1 million to $3.7 million. A penultimate budget that is still being discussed aims to decrease the current funding gradually to about $1.3 million by 2013 to 2014.

Zachary Frieders, assistant director of UCD Education Abroad Center, expects two distinct fee increases: a new supplemental fee for all students and increased program-specific fees.

With diminishing funds from the state and the UCOP, the new budget proposal suggests charging an EAP program fee that will go toward UC system-wide EAP operations. It is undetermined how much this fee will be.

In the past, students that went on programs that were more expensive didn’t necessarily have to pay more for that program in an effort to make sure programs were accessible for all students, Frieders said. This may no longer be the case.

“Under the new model, it’s kind of a paid system where a student goes on one program and pays the whole freight for that program,” he said.

Added program-specific fees may be around $1,000-$1,500 on average, Frieders said.

Even though EAP’s costs will increase, Frieders said the program will be remain competitive with third-party providers. While students traveling with third parties can only receive transfer credit, students with EAP receive UC credit and retain full access to UC aid and services.

“Certainly for now EAP remains the leading academic program for study abroad in the country and the best deal in town for UC students looking for a full immersion experience,” Frieders said.

Switching to a business model could make EAP a better program, Greenstein said.

“On the whole the program can be much more responsive to student needs, and in some ways because of the budget model, is required to be more responsive in order to be successful,” he said.

The new EAP fees do not directly affect students participating with Quarter Abroad and Summer Abroad programs since they are campus-based, but the budget still may have an impact.

“Cuts in general funds supporting the EAC are putting pressure on all our study abroad programs,” Frieders said.

Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, chair of the Academic Senate Committee on International Education, is worried that increased fees will lower student participation, which may then perpetuate further fee increases.

“It is really contingent on the number of students that participate,” he said. “At the present about 4500 students from UC as a whole participate in EAP. But this will probably be reduced to 4000 or below, and I think students will maybe then have to pay more.”

However, looming fee increases are not warding off potential EAP students.

Karly Graham, a sophomore Spanish major, is going to Argentina next spring for an immersion experience.

“I figure even it if is a little more expensive, it’s still going to be pretty cheap,” she said. “I feel like I’m not going to have another opportunity like this to travel while in school.”

A governing committee made up of senior administrators recommended the implementation of the EAP program fee and other parts of the budget proposal but the UCOP still has not officially recommended it.

With many aspects of EAP’s future uncertain, time will tell whether it can continue to meet UC needs and whether comparable options are available elsewhere, Frieders said.

“EAP has changed the lives of many tens of thousands of UC students for over 40 years and we sincerely hope that it will continue to be a part of the UC experience long into the future,” he said.

The EAC and Financial Aid Office will be co-hosting a workshop entitled “Destination: Affordable,” to help students with their financial planning from 3 to 4 p.m. today in King Lounge.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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