Summer travel aid deadline Friday

Elizabeth Giorgi

Hundreds of students choose to study abroad over the summer instead of taking time off. These trips can be expensive, and the Learning Abroad Center offers programs around the world with scholarships to help pay for the trips.

The scholarship application deadline for summer 2006 programs is Friday.

Blomquist said the Learning Abroad Center works to evenly spread out money during the year to make sure scholarships are given according to the number of students participating each semester.

The Center hopes to ensure that spreading out money over the year will allow for at least one scholarship for one of every two to three students, she said.

Blomquist said more students study abroad in the summer because it doesn’t interfere with the regular academic year, it costs less because the trip is briefer and students get credit toward their degrees.

“Students choose (their trip) based on how well it fits into their academic plan,” Blomquist said.

Last summer the Learning Abroad Center had 205 May session and 295 summer session University students participating in programs through the office, she said.

One of the problems students occasionally experience when deciding to do a summer program is working with financial aid because of the difference in money available for the summer, Blomquist said.

Students must take six credits to be eligible for financial aid for a summer trip, said Learning Abroad Center Communications Coordinator Santiago Fernandez-Gimenez.

Many students will choose a May session trip, which is worth three credits, and will have to take another three credits when they get back to fulfill the requirements for their financial aid, he said.

Although the summer programs are worth less credit because of their length, some students choose a summer trip because they might not be ready to commit to an entire semester or year, program associate Sarah Young said.

The shorter program also allows students to explore different fields, she said.

“One of the main advantages for some students is that it allows them to depart from their normal curriculum or their major,” she said.

Despite these benefits, the summer program is not a perfect fit for all students.

For students majoring in a language, long stays abroad help develop fluency, Young said.

She said each student has specific needs and desires for his or her experience abroad and the goal is to make certain those needs are addressed.

University Morris campus theater arts and French studies senior Jeni Brunner said she chose a summer program in Paris in 2004 because the program was specific to her needs.

Most programs in Paris are designed for architecture or history majors and are taught in English, but Brunner said she wanted to study French, and Sorbonne University offered a French program.

“I really, really enjoyed studying at the Sorbonne. In the class there were 25 people from probably 20 different countries,” she said.

However, Brunner said, she didn’t take advantage of scholarships at her school, but chose loans as a means for paying for her trip.

Fernandez-Gimenez said students need to financially plan their loans and grants in advance because taking a summer trip may prevent them from being able to use their aid during the regular academic year.