The Daily Illini

Editorial: A broader source range for study abroad scholarships

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

Study abroad experiences are wonderful and should be encouraged, but many University students don’t choose to participate. Still, all University students pay a $5 fee for I4I, or Illinois for Illinois, which is the undergraduate study abroad scholarship.

With 44,087 University students this fall, this adds up to $220,435.

Like we said, study abroad experiences should be encouraged, but it’s unfair to make the vast majority of students who don’t go abroad fund the scholarships to send them there.

For four years of a University education, $20 comes out of students’ pockets for study abroad scholarships. This may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things — there are a lot more irresponsible ways to spend $20 —, but the total of every student’s $20 is staggering, at $220,435.

That’s enough to pay half of the tuition for nearly 30 Illinois students who enroll this year. And while the total is just a mere 0.4 percent of the amount the state owes the University, for the usual University student, that $20 is a few meals, a few loads of laundry and a few coffees in the morning.

Affording college is no easy feat for anyone, and, as harsh as it may sound, extending the financial burdens of students onto other students who are also struggling isn’t right.

The majority of students at the University don’t study abroad, and it’s an unfair practice for those students to have to foot the bill for those who do.

Studying abroad certainly gives students experiences they’ll remember their whole lives, and we understand that some students wouldn’t be able to travel without scholarships. However, out of the 2,100 students who studied abroad last year, only 450 received a scholarship (which are only up to $2,000 each), said Caroline Ewing, international scholarship specialist for the department of study abroad.

While many programs require studying abroad in their course schedule, we must remember that for the majority of students who study abroad, it’s a luxury.

We also should consider that the majority of the scholarships are going to LAS students — along with students from ACES and Engineering — instead of split evenly between colleges.

We feel money for studying abroad scholarships should be coming from another area, such as donors or fundraisers — not from other students’ pockets. Previously, the fee was available to be refunded, but this is no longer true.

Although studying abroad is enlightening, it’s not a necessity. The total, $220,435, is a lot of money, and it could be going toward something more imperative, such as financial aid to students here on campus, or helping to ease the troubles caused by impending budget cuts.

We question whether many University students even know where their student fees are going. If the University administration, faculty and staff really value the importance of studying abroad, we feel this scholarship should be coming from another fund.

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