This October brought GEO Week, put on by the Global Education and Outreach Department, which highlights the different experiences offered to students. Though mission trips and summer ministries are popular topics, study abroad opportunities appear to receive less attention, and senior Ashley Preston believes she knows why.
Having studied abroad last semester in England, Preston found herself paying in full for tuition at Vanguard, even though a semester at Oxford would normally be a few thousand dollars cheaper. With no financial aid available for study abroad trips, Preston found herself paying $20,000 out of pocket, even though she is on scholarship when on campus.
For the missions trips that GEO provides, there are plenty of ways to pay for the trip. There are scholarships offered and fundraising opportunities, in addition to the cost normally staying under six thousand dollars, depending on the destination.
However, students who take a semester to study abroad end up paying full price for a semester at Vanguard, even if the program that they are studying with is cheaper than that price.
According to Preston, she was only one of three students in her program from Vanguard. She suspects that the low numbers are due to the steep price of studying abroad and the university’s inability to provide financial aid.
“There’s a disconnect between [GEO] and the Board, because [GEO] obviously want[s] more students engaged and being financially able to go, so they have fundraising opportunities, but when you’re going for tuition–you can’t fundraise your tuition, you know what I mean? Like what’s 20 thousand dollars? You’re going to get like two thousand,” Preston said.
Even if a student has financial aid provided by Vanguard to attend the university, none of that money applies to the tuition to study abroad. Students must pay full price for a semester, even though, Preston says, they are acting as the face of Vanguard and doing free promotion.
“To represent Vanguard in that way, like I was at conferences and working with researchers, and now my name is ‘Vanguard University’ and I’m like that’s a financial investment, and technically as an institution, students are assets in that way, if you’re putting yourself out there academically, that’s how the university gets more funding,” Preston said.
Preston is hoping to be able to speak to the Board of Trustees and share her perspective on the need for scholarships with study abroad. She is hopeful that with offering scholarships it will draw more attention to the program and increase numbers of participants.