Studying abroad is an opportunity that every student deserves to experience, and UCR should work on making that opportunity more accessible. There are questionable fees added to a student’s account while in another country. This was a topic not properly covered in the program informational meetings; students were given “ballpark” answers in response to questions like “How much does it really cost to study abroad?”
At slightly less than a full quarter at UCR, the Faculty-Led Education Abroad Programs (FLEAP) program fee is $3,488 but can vary depending on location. Each session fee is the same as UCR’s Summer Sessions, priced at $1,016 each, plus an additional $16 for each tech material fee. That brings the total to $5,522 for each month spent abroad. This should be the only fee added to the bill, as students studying abroad are spending time far away from the UCR campus. To everyone’s frustration, however, students are also charged fees for on-campus utilities and programs — services that the students are not using while abroad. This adds an extra $449.54 of fees, raising total student fees to $6,001.54. This does not include the cost of the flight to and from the location, nor the cost of meals and other activities which for many students was close to $1,500-$3,000 more.
However, don’t lose hope if you want to study abroad — scholarships are the first source of funding that students should look into when planning to study abroad. The Office of International Affairs encourages students to consider applying for scholarships offered by the school, but the catch is that UCR has very low funding for study abroad scholarships. This results in the possibility of aid being unavailable as it was this past summer. A new referendum was passed during spring quarter 2019 directed at increasing the funding available for students to study abroad. There are also many scholarship opportunities offered outside of UCR that could help with the financial burden. Furthermore, countries that fewer students choose to go to actually have more offers of scholarships available to encourage students to explore that country. While this means that students might not be studying somewhere touristy like Paris, the costs of the trip may be completely paid for.
Since 86% of students at UCR receive financial aid to cover tuition, it is important to know how financial aid will work when studying abroad. If a student decided to study abroad during the fall, winter or spring term then the student would be eligible for the full award amount as if they were attending UCR locally as a full-time student. However, if they were to study abroad during the summer then the awards are cut in half, leaving a sum for you to pay out of pocket.
For as fervently as the school pushes for students to study abroad, UCR isn’t giving them accurate pricing. Students should be fully informed on how expensive studying abroad is so that they are not hit with a hard reality while abroad that their budgeting was incorrect. Having to pay student fees while studying abroad is unfair, $500-$1,200 that go to on-campus programs could have been the difference between the opportunity to fully experience something new while abroad or even being in less debt after the program is over. If UCR continues to push students to study abroad, then they need to focus more on funding the program, making it affordable and fully informing prospective students on what to expect financially.