Study abroad costs, applicants fluctuate depending on program

The Geneseo Study Abroad department has been the topic of recent discussion in regard to its cost and application numbers for a variety of semester exchange and faculty-led summer programs. In particular, summer programs have caused speculation as to why those shorter trips tend to be higher in price in relation to time spent overseas than those that extend over an entire semester.

Estimated program costs provided by the Study Abroad department show that for an in-state student studying at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the grand total of expenses comes to approximately $13,612.50 for one semester, while taking Humanities I in Rome costs around $8,114.40 for one month in the summer. The cost per day of studying in Rome is drastically higher than that in the Netherlands.

According to study abroad advisor Emily Froome, these differences in price are derived from the all-inclusive nature of the programs during the summer term.

“When you go on a faculty-led program, you go on a bundled experience,” she said in a phone interview. “It puts together as many activities as possible in a short amount of time.”

Froome described this inclusion as things such as travel expenses, airfare, accommodation, entrance fees and some meals; many of these expenses are not included in semester-long exchange programs. Weekend excursions included in many of the faculty-led itineraries also raise prices for programs taking place during summer term—another aspect of travel excluded from a semester exchange.

While Froome acknowledged that these trips can be “hard on the wallet,” she also emphasized that they make it “easier on the schedule,” referring to the opportunity they provide to eliminate a course usually taken during the school year. Receiving an estimated 300 applicants for summer programs each year, the department sends a portion of these students on trips offering general education requirements such as Humanities I and II.

Associate professor of German and faculty advisor to the summer study abroad program for Humanities II in Prague, Czech Republic and Vienna, Austria Cynthia Klima reported a decrease in approximately 25 applicants from those who applied in 2015 to those who applied for summer 2016. Although a similar number of students accepted their invitation to the program—18 for 2015 and 19 for 2016—neither Klima nor Froome had an explanation for the difference in application numbers for this particular program.

Klima expressed her belief that this decrease may stem from students’ desire to work over the summer, especially if they are unemployed during the semester.

“Students can’t find jobs,” she said. “Geneseo is a small community and there isn’t always enough opportunity for employment.”

Putnam Hall residence assistant and psychology major junior Eve Huttner reiterated Klima’s sentiment, noting that she chose not to study abroad during the summer for similar reasons.

“I had to work my job at home that I’ve been at for five years,” she said. “It’s also more expensive because I can’t use my financial aid without taking it away from the academic year.”

Geneseo does not offer financial aid specifically for summer programs. Instead, students can choose to use a portion of what they are allotted during the school year for the weeks they study abroad in the summer.   

According to Froome, pricesacross programs generally stay the same and the spikes or decreases in application numbers occur randomly.

“Last year, our trip to Athens had 26 applicants and now it has 10,” she said. “But Rome, which was low last year, has now spiked upward again. In the overall aggregate of applicants, the number stays pretty consistent.”