With the economic crisis reaching into everyone’s pockets, students looking to study abroad are faced with tough choices.
“With this crisis escalating and the American dollar becoming less valuable overseas, studying abroad may not be a realistic opportunity for me,” said junior Elyse Glaid, who was planning on studying abroad in the summer.
According to Mark Bernheim, co-director of a Miami University study abroad program in Florence, summer study abroad programs are the most at risk from the suffering economy, because they are an added cost after students pay for two semesters per year.
Bernheim said the numbers for the summer 2009 program are struggling compared to past years.
The program has grown from 5 to 65 participants from 1991 to 2008, with 54 students in 2008.
Bernheim would not give exact numbers for the summer 2009 expected enrollment, but he said the program isn’t full yet.
“Everybody is feeling the impact of the economy,” Bernheim said. “Around this time for the past 15 years, my program would have been completely full due to its popularity. This year, I have some spaces-which is highly unusual-and the only reason for that is the money issue.”
According to David Keitges, director of international education, about 60 percent of all Miami students who study abroad go on short-term programs, with many during the summer months.
Keitges agreed with Bernheim, pointing out that due to extra finances and less financial aid available, summer programs are those most likely to suffer.
However, Keitges said no programs have been canceled due to the economic crisis.
According to Sarah McNitt, study abroad adviser, one scholarship from Miami is available to students for summer programs-the Lifelong Learning-led International Workshop Award.
Keitges said the impact on semester study abroad programs is not as severe as that on summer programs, because students can use financial aid to fund part or most of the trip.
According to Cordelia Stroinigg, coordinator for the Miami University Dolibois European Center, there have been a large amount of requests for financial assistance for both summer and semester programs.
She said this is highly unusual, especially for semester programs.
“We have been expecting that there will be some withdrawals from summer programs due to financial reasons and we have already had some drop out because of this,” Stroinigg said.
Stroinigg said scholarships for both summer and semester programs are also becoming harder to find due to the necessity from the crisis.
However, Stroinigg said for many programs, it’s still too early to tell if their popularity will be negatively impacted by tighter family budgets.
“Although fewer students are signing up at this point, it is still too early to determine the effect of the crisis as many of the summer programs’ deadlines are not until later,” Keitges said.
Bernheim feels the current economic situation will mean nothing for summer programs in the long run.
“The program will go on for many years,” Bernheim said. “We are trying to cut back some of the luxuries but still keep it appealing and successful. The numbers may be smaller but we will have to hang in there and put up with these conditions.”