Officials emphasize experiencing cultures outside of the United States, so much so that about half of the GW community studied abroad in 2017. Studying abroad is an integral part of many students’ college experiences, but the hefty price tag could prevent students from taking up the opportunity. Some of those financial issues could be remedied if students paid the tuition price of the school where they choose to study.
Students who study abroad are charged the same tuition they would pay at GW. This means that students in the Class of 2022 are expected to pay a yearly tuition of $55,140 both on campus or abroad. On top of GW’s tuition, students are required to pay a fee covering extra costs like housing and transportation, which ranges from $850 to $8,150. Universities in other countries cost less, but students are still charged the same hefty GW price tag.
As a participant in the Global Bachelor’s Program, I will study abroad for up to three semesters, starting with Shanghai this Spring. I will be enrolled at Fudan University in China, which averages between $8,000 to $11,000 per year – astronomically lower than GW’s tuition.
Students should not have to pay home tuition while they study at an institution that is cheaper than GW. Allowing students to pay the tuition of the school at which they study would decrease the financial burden and incentivize more students to take advantage of opportunities outside the country.
The Office of Study Abroad states that the University charges students for the resources provided, like advising and processing applications. While students benefit from the assistance, there is no reason for them to pay excessively high fees. The better approach is for students to directly pay the study abroad program or university at which they study and pay GW a flat logistics or study abroad fee that does not include a full GW tuition.
The University also suggests that students can continue to pay for resources like the library and career services. But students do not have access to the professors at GW nor do they have the ability to participate in University events. Students should not be expected to pay for services they are no longer using. Students should pay for a GW education, not just a GW degree.
Some students choose to participate in provider programs through the Office for Study Abroad that allows them to take courses that count toward their credit at GW exclusively with the program or through a host or local institution. The Council on International Educational Exchange is a popular provider program which offers more than 200 study abroad programs across the globe and covers costs like tuition, housing, insurance, excursions, orientation and academic advising. The programs typically range from $15,000 to $20,000. But instead of just paying the provider program, GW is the middle-man in the transaction, and students must pay the full cost of home tuition and the additional fee.
In particular, CIEE charges about $16,450 for a semester in Seville, Spain. Instead of paying this straightforward and relatively affordable price, GW students need to pay a tuition of $27,570 and about $6,000 in additional fees, totaling $33,830 for one semester abroad. Alternatively, the money students would owe GW can be better spent on flights and textbooks.
When GW students study abroad, they can pay up to double the amount of what students on the same program from other American universities are paying – even though they will receive the same education for that semester, participate in the same excursions and receive the same insurance coverage. When GW students go abroad, they will pay more than students from other universities in the U.S. while receiving the same education in the semester they are abroad.
As a school committed to providing students with educational opportunities abroad, GW should follow the lead of other universities and increase study abroad affordability. Harvard, Yale and Princeton universities only require students to pay the cost of tuition and associated fees to the program or university at which their students are attending. Similarly, three of GW’s peer schools – the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Southern California and Tufts University – allow students to pay tuition based on the type of program they choose.
GW is in a position to follow existing and more affordable programs at other universities. Students should not be compelled to choose between the experience of a lifetime or financial security. GW must encourage students to study abroad and ensure students can afford to take advantage of the opportunity.
Shir Levy, a sophomore majoring in international affairs and economics, is an opinions writer.