Study abroad options too expensive for students

From day one, TCU encourages all students to study abroad. The admissions Web site even includes an interactive video feature with students broadcasting their personal international experiences to prospective students.

Few disagree that studying abroad is beneficial. But, if the university is going to highly recommend and advertise studying abroad, it should do something to make the option more affordable.

The Center for International Studies Web site shows the multitude of TCU-tailored study-abroad programs and more generic options offered through partner programs in even more countries.

What does not make sense, though, is the difference between the cost of the TCU-tailored programs and the more generic programs. For example, a TCU summer study-abroad session in Seville, Spain, costs $3,052. Add to that the cost of tuition – $865 per credit hour for six hours – and the base price tag is $8,242.

Now take a similar program through the Council on International Education Exchange, a separate study-abroad agency from which TCU accepts credit hours. Two CIEE summer sessions in Seville, the equivalent of six credit hours, cost $5,670, about $2,500 less than the TCU program.

So what is the difference in studying abroad through a TCU program that makes it worth so much more? Tracy Williams, associate director of The Center for International Studies, said in an e-mail that TCU provides special services for its students, such as helping with enrollment and providing orientations.

“Academics, programmatic features and location aspects are all considered with the TCU student in mind,” she wrote.

But the TCU study-abroad program prices are also higher than other school-specific programs. A summer in Italy with TCU costs $8,415, almost $750 more than Southern Methodist University’s Italy program, which costs $7,668, including a $400 deposit.

Although the programs cannot be directly compared – they are based in different cities in Italy – the price difference is still notable.

Williams said summer study-abroad programs recently saw a 25-percent reduction in program fees. That’s excellent, but clearly it’s not enough.

If TCU is going to continue to brag about its study abroad programs, it should make them more affordable.

I studied abroad in Madrid this past summer with IES, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I don’t feel like I missed out on anything not going with TCU. In fact, I think I learned more from it. I was able to meet and get to know students from universities across the U.S., from Wake Forest University to Harvard University.

Even if there were no cost difference in the two programs, I would still choose to study abroad with an affiliate program just to have a more diverse experience.

The benefits of studying abroad are clear, but if the TCU programs were not so expensive, more students would be able to enjoy them.

Managing editor Bailey Shiffler is a senior international communications major from Georgetown.