Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier features editor
Kelsee Brady, Campus Carrier asst. features editor
Preparing to study abroad can be a long process for students. The high ticket price of the experience can deter students from choosing to go abroad, but scholarships and financial aid can significantly decrease the cost. Director of International Experiences Chris Borda recommends for students to start preparing to study abroad at least a year in advance because of the different scholarships and classes the student will have to prepare for.
“We (International Experiences) will have people, right now, walk in and say, ‘I want to go abroad next semester for the spring,’” Borda said. “We can work with you, we can get that set up, it’s completely fine. But, it might limit some of those scholarship opportunities.”
Maggie Stansell, financial aid counselor, said that the process for studying abroad and available financial aid vary depending on the semester. Borda said fall and spring semester classes are about $25,000, which is equivalent to Berry tuition and covers classes, travel expenses, and room and board. He also said that preexisting scholarships such as financial aid, federal aid and state aid can be applied. Stansell said scholarships that are specific to Berry can be applied to study abroad for any semester. However, eligibility for the summer may vary per student.
Summer classes cost significantly less. Borda said the tuition ranges from $4,000 to $7,000. However, he said there are fewer scholarships and aid that can be applied to these classes.
According to Stansell, federal and state aid can apply towards study abroad costs during the summer. For example, the Helping Others Pursue Education Scholarship (HOPE), Zell Miller Scholarship and Pell Grant can be applied along with federal loans. However, the exact amount will be different for each student.
In order to apply for new scholarships and aid, students must fill out the form found on the Berry College study abroad website at https://intlexp.berry.edu/. Under the “View Programs” tab, upcoming programs and scholarships are available.
“We have a semester and year scholarship and then a summer scholarship,” Borda said. “Even though we have more than one scholarship available during the semester and during the year, we have people fill out one application.”
Borda said that the online application is then applied to every eligible scholarship. So, the student does not have to worry about filling out multiple applications. For example, if a student is a Spanish major and is planning on studying abroad in Spain, they will automatically be considered for scholarships that apply to that category.
The International Experiences committee, made up of campus directors and one faculty member of each academic school, meets to decide and assign scholarships.
“Not everybody is awarded,” Borda said. “Sometimes, we do kind of mix and match depending on how much a scholarship has to award that year and how much the committee decides that person should receive. So, the committee reviews them based on GPA, financial need and the essays you write.”
If the student receives a new scholarship, the financial aid office will be notified, Stansell said. The office will then add the aid to the student’s tuition package.
Stansell said that by making an appointment with the financial aid office, the student can receive a complete comprehensive overview of their aid package before going abroad.
“Schedule an appointment with your financial aid counselor,” Stansell said. “We can take a look at all of the scholarships you have, take a look at what you’re registered for, and just confirm the financial aid you’ll be able to use because it could just differ depending on the student.”
If state, federal and financial aid do not cover tuition costs, some students find alternative payment methods. Senior Macy Dominey traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, over the summer to take part in a diverse cultures education course where she immersed herself into the culture of the residents.
Dominey said that the cost of the course concerned her because it was expensive. Although Dominey did receive Berry scholarships, it was not enough to fully cover the cost.
Dominey said her and other students in the diverse cultures class sold a t-shirt designed on FundtheNations.com, a website that assists the user in designing t-shirts and raising funds for abroad trips.
“I did fundraising,” Dominey said. “There was even a donor who gave all the music-ed majors that were going a thousand dollars to go and teach music. Honestly, I ended up paying less than a thousand dollars for an almost five-thousand-dollar trip.”
Also, Borda recommended any students who have questions regarding going abroad to schedule an appointment with someone in the International Experiences office. He said the International Experiences office can help with simple questions such as even making a budget.