Editorial: Improve Summer Study Abroad Offerings and Financial Aid| February 21, 2016
Princeton offers its undergraduate students a wide array of summer opportunities, from the International Internship Program (IIP) to Princeton Internships in Civic Service (PICS). Included in students’ access to summer opportunities is the ability to study abroad during the summer for course credit through the Office of International Programs. However, for students on financial aid who wish to study abroad, the number of summer study abroad programs funded by the University remains low. Furthermore, when compared to the summer study abroad options offered by peer institutions such as Harvard, Princeton offers comparatively fewer and less flexible options. The Board encourages the Office of International Programs to extend financial aid coverage to all of Princeton’s seventeen summer study abroad programs. Additionally, the Board calls on OIP to explore the possibility of adding additional summer programs that give students more flexibility in regards to location and duration.
While the University’s Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) offers several funding opportunities for summer study abroad, there are several issues with the current funding opportunities. The first and most important drawback is that the funding decision periods for two major funding sources, The Fred Fox Class of 1939 Fund and The Dean’s Fund for Summer Study Abroad, occur during the month of April, a month after the commitment deadline for several programs. For instance, Princeton in Argentina, Princeton in Brazil, Princeton in St. Petersburg, Princeton in Spain, Princeton in Dar es Salaam and the PIIRS African Studies Seminar all release their admission decisions in the month of March, with nearly all of the programs requiring students to declare whether or not they will be attending within a two-week timeframe. There is often a cancellation fee if students commit to a program and later indicate after the deadline that they are no longer able participate, whether for financial or other reasons.
The programs listed above comprise six of the seventeen study abroad programs offered at Princeton for the summer of 2016. The vast majority of the Princeton’s summer study abroad programs are not covered by some sort of financial aid on behalf of the University. PIIRS Global Seminars and Princeton in Beijing (PIB), however, are the exceptions to the rule of “no financial aid for summer study abroad”. While searching for funding is still an option in the absence of financial assistance for the previously stated programs, a representative from the Office of International Programs stated that only 40-50% of funding applicants receive the funds they need to travel abroad. Furthermore, the Global Seminars occur during the middle of the summer, which makes it inconvenient for students who wish to earn money for their families or gain work experience through an internship during part of their summers. The Board recognizes that trade-offs are made whenever funding is increased for a specific activity or program, but we believe that study abroad is a valuable experience that enriches and supplements one’s education.The opportunity to study abroad in the summer should be made available to all students, regardless of their financial situation. Whether by creating more programs with more flexible dates or by extending financial aid, the University should try to remove all barriers to these opportunities.
Summer study abroad programs offer Princeton students an enriching educational experience. Thus, the Board encourages the Office of Financial Aid to consider supplementing student expenses for summer study abroad for programs not covered under the current system and explore the possibility of adding more diverse and flexible programs.
Connor Pfeiffer ‘18 abstained from the writing of this editorial.
TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-In-Chief.