Studying abroad is often regarded as one of the most life-changing experiences that a college student can have. Experiencing a new culture firsthand can transform a student’s worldview, and help him or her gain a deeper understanding of American culture as well. The problem, however, is that studying abroad is still very expensive. Even if the student’s tuition transfers, there are still many other miscellaneous costs such as flights, and room and board. Not to mention that the cost of living in some major, international cities is considerably higher than many American college towns.
So, how does a first-gen student approach the decision of whether or not to study abroad? There’s no easy answer to that question, but the Institute of International Education, (IIE), has just launched a campaign that might make it easier for low-income students across the U.S. to enjoy a study abroad experience. Titled Generation Study Abroad, IIE’s new initiative is targeting low income college students with the aim of providing these students with financial assistance that will make going abroad more financially feasible. In an article in the University Herald, Scott Bickard describes this new campaign, which aims to enroll 600,000 students in study abroad programs by 2019.
But what can be done about this in the meantime? 2019 is still a few years away. At I’m First, we are helping our first-gen students by providing them with as much information about our college partners as possible, so they have the necessary resource to connect further and make informed decisions about schools’ programs, such as study abroad.. Some colleges and universities offer special grants or scholarships for students who choose to study abroad, in order to offset costs. By giving our students a place where they can discuss the college process, we hope students will consider all kinds of factors – including whether or not a school makes it easier and feasible for students to travel overseas.
What do you think? Will IIE’s initiative encourage more students to study abroad? What else can colleges do to financially support students who think that a semester abroad is out of the question?