Study Abroad Office making programs financially feasible

By Jessica Bockman

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Study Abroad Office has been focusing its work recently on minimizing costs to students, expanding its programs to other countries and opening courses to involve other majors.

The University of Arizona offers study-abroad courses in 35 locations around the world, said Lynne O. Stevens, an administrative assistant for the program. About 400 students study abroad each year, and there are approximately 1,000 students each year who express interest, she said.

Travel abroad can incur tremendous expenses.

Tuition, room and board, class fees and student health insurance are usually included in the program fees, but students must also pay for the airfare and general spending money, said Cyndi Thipdavong, political science senior, who went to Thailand last year.

In the interest of taking some of the financial burden off of the students, Study Abroad has made the cost of its program the same for in- and out-of-state students, said Wayne Decker, director of the Study Abroad Office.

The program now offers a Study Abroad Travel Grant for students to use on UA study abroad trips, Stevens said. The first grant was awarded in spring of 1994, but there is no limit to the number of grants to be awarded. How many grants are awarded, and how much money, depends on the quantity and quality of applicants, she said.

The office also has information on scholarships from the National Security Education Program and Fulbright. NSEP is offered to graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in study or research in countries outside of Europe. The Fulbright scholarships are offered to graduate students for research in other countries.

Finding the programs and working out a budget is the responsibility of the student, Thipdavong said. She received an NSEP scholarship which paid for the program fees to Thailand.

"You have to find the program that suits you and (NSEP) sets up the funding," she said.

Most financial aid transfers over to fund out-of-country studies, Stevens said, clarifying this is possible because a student enrolled at the UA is kept enrolled while out of the country.

In addition, Study Abroad offers student exchange programs.

In most study abroad programs, a student pays the program fees for the UA and the tuition for the university abroad. In the exchange program, the tuition at the university abroad would be eliminated for the UA student, while the UA tuition would be waived for the exchange student.

Exchange programs to Taiwan and Germany have been offered for about 10 years, Stevens said. Two new programs in Mexico were implemented in 1994, she said.

Most programs focus on central Europe and the United Kingdom, and offer language or humanities classes.

"We've tried very hard (in the last three years) to build programs of some distinction outside of Europe," Decker said.

The office is interested in expanding into Latin America, East Asia and the Middle East, he said. Though the UA does not offer many programs outside of Europe, the office has information on programs offered by other universities.

Courses abroad are also being offered in engineering, business or natural sciences areas.

Pamphlets on courses offered in countries such as Egypt and Australia are displayed along with information on financing the program. The Study Abroad staff is willing to help any student who expresses interest, Decker said.

"It helps if students have an idea of where they want to go or what they want to study," Stevens said, adding that the information will enable the Study Abroad staff to help a student find the best program.

It is important for students to work with their advisers before applying for the program in order to make sure the courses will transfer, Stevens said. While the UA accepts credits from any accredited university, it is up to the departments to determine what credits they will accept toward a degree.

Furthermore, when studying abroad, students should keep in mind that semesters in other countries run differently than they do at the UA, Stevens said, and that this can and often does delay the transfer of credits and grades.

For more information on studying abroad, call the program's office at 621-4819.

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