• May 5, 2015

Out-of-state students shouldn't pay more for study abroad - The Breeze: Opinion

Out-of-state students shouldn't pay more for study abroad

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Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 8:04 pm | Updated: 8:10 pm, Wed Mar 26, 2014.

I’m sure you’ve all heard out-of-state students complaining about the price they pay for tuition; however, we know it’s justified. Being from New Jersey myself, it is definitely frustrating to me (and my parents) that tuition costs more than it does for students living in Virginia. That being said, I chose to come here, so it is only fair that I pay the out-of-state price. But what about study abroad?

It makes sense that out-of-state students pay more for tuition since they haven’t contributed taxes to Virginia (since it is a state school).

But, study abroad is different. It is an excellent opportunity for students to travel and experience a different culture while earning credits for taking classes. Since study abroad (keyword “abroad”) is not in Virginia, why should out-of-state students still have to pay more for these credits?

The JMU Study Abroad Program charges students for normal tuition, room and board, along with a supplemental program fee. The program fees and room and board charges are the same for all students, but out-of-state students are still paying more for tuition. Typically the classes are not being taught by JMU professors, JMU spaces are not being used and JMU is not directly giving the students these credits. Why should we be paying more for this?

I have heard from a fair share of out-of-state students who cannot afford study abroad due to the cost of their tuition along with the program fee.

It is understandable that providing classes, housing and food for students in a foreign country is expensive. However, out-of-state students should not be paying for the majority of this.

Since students are in a foreign country, the expenses should be split between them all so more people get the opportunity to learn in such a unique way.

Out-of-state tuition costs are over double those of in-state students — this is not fair. Although study abroad is through JMU, some students are not earning credits directly from the university, and therefore should not be paying for that. Caitlin Shipman, an in-state junior at JMU, comments, “Study abroad programs bet on there being so many out-of-state students on the trip, and use that money to keep the price down for in-state students. Since study abroad is already expensive and obviously not in Virginia, that seems like they’re taking advantage of out-of-state students to me!”

All students deserve an equal price to study in a foreign country and have a once in a lifetime experience.

There are many other schools that charge the same price for in-state and out-of-state students to study abroad, so why isn’t JMU one of them? I had a personal experience with this problem when I looked into the Honors Seminar Abroad in Barcelona, Spain. I went to the meeting hoping to gain some more information about the trip and how I may be able to complete my seminar requirements there; however, I was taken aback by the fact that the total cost to participate in the program would be more than $8,000 once said and done.

This is almost double what in-state students would be paying for the same program — it is simply not justified.

Many people are surprised by the fact that JMU does not have a standard price for study abroad, and we should definitely change that. A large amount of in-state students, out-of-state students and professors agree that this is unfair; so why isn’t anything being done about it?

Rachel Petty is a freshman media arts and design major. Contact Rachel at pettyrb@dukes.jmu.edu.

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