Lifestyles

Budgeting studies abroad

Whether a student wants to visit ancient ruins in Italy or climb up grassy knolls in Ireland, John Brown University’s International Department can set students up with exciting study abroad opportunities.

Many college students have international travel destinations in mind — places relevant to their field of study, or simply locations with rich history or beautiful architecture. As students, however, it can be hard to find the money for such extravagant, eye-opening trips.

JBU offers trips to several different locations around the world including Jordan, Israel, China, Australia, Belize, England and Ireland. All trips have a central location where students stay to facilitate cross-cultural experiences.

Mindi Stevenson, international missions and studies coordinator, said she desires to see more students study abroad.

Stevenson referenced classes at JBU which satisfy the global studies credit without requiring students to travel. “We can set up little ‘what if?’ situations and all those sorts of things you can do in classrooms,” Stevenson said, “but it’s nothing like flying into Lithuania knowing you have to take a bus to get to LCC [Lithuania Christian College] and two of your roommates are going to be Eastern European. It’s pretty exciting.”

Every year, over a hundred JBU students participate in international experiences, according to JBU’s International Programs page. JBU offers summer and semester study abroad programs. With the summer programs, students can earn six to nine hours of college credit while abroad for four to six weeks. Semester programs offer a maximum of 15 credit hours.

JBU partners with The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), a higher education association that offers BestSemester programs, where students can study abroad in places like Australia, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

David Burney, associate director of financial aid, explained how financial aid works for study abroad programs.

“The financial office helps students navigate the financial process of studying abroad. Although student loans and financial aid from JBU can help students with semester abroad programs, primarily Oxford and Ireland, loans are what help students during summer abroad programs,” Burney said.

In order to study abroad, students must apply through the international programs office. An international programs committee determines the amount of JBU institutional aid for which a student studying abroad qualifies. For example, for the Ireland semester program, 100 percent of financial aid goes to the trip with an extra cost of around $1,400 to $1,700 for books and flight fees.

In the case of other study abroad programs, the financial aid office works with students on an individual basis.

“The biggest thing about study abroad is that sometimes students are anticipating the cost of the program but they are not anticipating additional costs such as the plane ticket or the extra travel expenses. That’s what I try to help students with. Looking at a breakdown of whether or not it will be affordable way before they make that decision,” Burney said.

The financial aid office works with a couple of outside sources, one of which is the Gilman International Scholarship Foundation. The Gilman Foundation helps students carry the financial weight of international studies or internships and the financial aid office works with sources like this to see if some students can apply for extra aid for study abroad programs. No additional scholarships are given out for summer or semesters abroad.

While there are many factors that come into play, the three least expensive study abroad options offered through JBU seem to be the Quito, Ecuador, Mission Studies, the summer Bible Lands Studies in Jordan and the semester-long Ireland Studies trip.

Studying abroad “is a chance to rely on other people, learn to be humble and learn what it’s like to ask questions when you don’t really want to be that person that has to ask questions. It is a chance for students to be exposed to something that, in these four years, they may not have the chance to have that same experience ever again,” Stevenson said.

A list of approved CCCU semester programs that are offered through John Brown University for studying abroad can be found at jbu.edu. Fees vary based on program and finances can be found for CCCU programs at bestsemester.com.