Ohio State students studying abroad could soon be looking at either a $400 fee or no bill from OSU at all.
In the past, students studying abroad have been required to pay tuition to both OSU and their respective foreign university, but a new policy proposed by the OSU Board of Trustees would waive that in favor of a $400 flat program administration fee.
Some students responded positively to the concept of more affordable opportunities to study overseas.
Amanda Massinople, a third-year in Italian and English, is set to study abroad this summer for two months in Siena, Italy, before the tuition waiver would take effect in Fall Semester. She said, though, she still supports the potential waiver.
“I actually think it’s awesome. I know a lot of students don’t pursue study abroad programs because they know that it will be so expensive,” Massinople said. “Study abroad should be accessible to every student at the university, (and) the cost of study abroad is a major reason why it is not accessible to many students.”
Massinople said she traveled to England during her freshman year as a part of the OSU London Honors program, and while it was expensive to participate, cost was not a deterrent for her.
“For me, it was not a financial hardship. I didn’t have any issues paying for it. I was a little shocked how much it cost, but I think most of that was in the plane ticket is my guess,” Massinople said.
The Spring 2014 OSU London Honors program, which is an eight-day trip, costs $2,549 on top of OSU tuition.
Tuition for Ohio residents costs $10,010 for the 2013-14 academic year, and for non-residents costs $25,276.
But that proposed $400 fee could be dismissed as well. At a Friday Board meeting, finance committee chairman William Jurgensen said the committee didn’t agree with the fee.
“The committee thought the first part of that made sense, the tuition waiver part, but we couldn’t make heads or tails out of the $400 fee,” Jurgensen said. “We approved the tuition waiver aspect of this but we are suggesting that we not put the $400 fee in for our students. Hopefully, the president and the provost would agree with that. That’s our best advice.”
Jurgensen said the committee came to the conclusion that such a relatively small sum of money — in the grand scheme of much larger budgetary concerns for OSU — didn’t warrant putting yet another fee burden on the student, even as the financial outlook for studying abroad improves for would-be enrollees.
The Board’s approval sends the proposal to the Ohio Board of Regents, which would have to approve the tuition waiver.
Other OSU students said they support the tuition waiver regardless of whether the $400 fee is implemented.
Haley De Leon, a third-year in social work, said the waiver would lead to more interest, and said the affordability of it all should expand programs’ participation.
“I studied abroad my freshman year, I took a 10-day trip to Ecuador over winter break,” De Leon said. “That one I was able to pay for through high school scholarships I had. I did pay a little out-of-pocket money but because it was a shorter trip, I was kind of able to afford it. I definitely would not have been able to afford like a semester trip because I know they’re really expensive but I would have loved to be able to do one of those … so this obviously sounds awesome to be able to waive that fee. International travel is expensive enough, in terms of your plane ticket, so being able to have that fee and tuition covered would be great.”
De Leon is scheduled to travel to Ecuador again for a service-learning trip during May Session, which is part of OSU’s Summer Semester.
De Leon also said she sees the waiver as the removal of a barrier to students pursuing opportunities to become more well-rounded.
“I would say (the waiver) is going to be a huge impact for students and for the campus community as a whole. Making study abroad more affordable for students is really going to make, I think, all of our students more competitive when it comes to our jobs,” De Leon said. “International travel is something that, no matter what field you go into, is going to be valued when you’re applying for jobs so being able to make this more affordable for students will allow them to be more competitive in their careers after college.”