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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Study abroad app fee not worth protesting

    The UA has a wide variety of study abroad opportunities that offer priceless and irreplaceable experiences to UA students, but unfortunately, those memories don’t come cheap. Each trip costs thousands of dollars on its own, but students must pay another $80 on top of that, simply for applying.

    I’ve listened to the complaints, seen the eye rolls and heard the sighs when my peers make the irreversible click that sends a bill straight to their bursar’s account.

    Every dime makes a difference to students, but when a student decides to apply for a program, a non-refundable fee of $80 is charged to their bursar’s account “whether [they] decide to complete the application or not,” according to the Global Initiatives Website.

    An article in The Huffington Post featured a study which revealed that “almost 80 percent of young adults (average age of just over 18) worry about debt and are experiencing debt-related stress in their daily lives.”

    Paying a stress-inducing application fee that nears $100 is frustrating to say the least, but students might be a bit more willing to pay if they knew its reasonable and necessary purpose.

    Since Study Abroad does not receive direct state or tuition funding, the $80 specifically funds promotion, advice regarding applications, application database software and site licenses, database maintenance and personnel costs, said Mike Proctor, the vice president for Global Initiatives.

    “Over the last few years, [Study Abroad] has generated $84,000 from application fees annually and, of this, roughly $35,000 covers the database software and site license alone,” Proctor said.

    The staff also uses the revenue from the fee to fund consultation services that help students confidently select which study abroad program best fits them, ultimately saving students time and money — including that $80 fee — by decreasing their chances of filling out multiple applications, Proctor added.

    From the summer of 2013 through spring of this year, 1,205 students participated in 100 different study abroad programs in 47 different countries, according to Janis Rutherford, senior business manager for Global Initiatives.

    Processing all of those applications costs money, whether that money is classified as application fees or program fees. From the moment we click “start” and create applications, we’re racking up costs for Global Initiatives.

    The $80 charge will exist whether or not students are serious about traveling, and whether or not they are sure of the trip they want to take, but isolating the application fee helps reduce the overall price to study abroad. By not including application fees in the program dues, students who commit to their program wholeheartedly won’t have to deal with the consequences of their peers’ indecision.

    Some students, like Katie Walters, a computer science sophomore who studied in Germany over the summer, feel that the application fee is a small price to pay for the opportunity to study abroad.

    Walters earned six units of UA credit, which would have cost her about $2,500 in Tucson. The program abroad cost her $2,980, which included the application fee, the class, a dorm room, meals and other excursions, she said.

    “Basically, I got the chance to live in Europe instead of Tucson for $400, a plane ticket and an app fee,” Walters said.

    When it comes to the application fee itself, Walters said she believes it’s a pretty good deal.

    “I don’t think the $80 app fee is completely unreasonable,” he said. “Studying abroad is such a huge financial investment, a very worthwhile one in my opinion, that an $80 fee shouldn’t really prevent someone from applying.”

    Still, the well-being of stressed students is not to be taken lightly. Students may feel better about paying $80 for their application if they recognize how life-changing this experience could be.

    By taking advantage of information sessions and reaching out to study abroad coordinators, who are prepared to provide insight into which program would be a good fit for a student, students may come to realize that $80 is actually a bargain.

    Shelby Thomas is a sophomore studying family studies and human development and Spanish. Follow her @shelbyalayne.

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