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Senate discusses changing study abroad payment


Jacob Reynolds contributed reporting to this article.

At its Nov. 30 meeting, the Drake University Student Senate discussed the new study abroad proposal currently under consideration by the Board of Trustees. In his monthly campus-wide email, which provides updates on Senate activities, Student Body President Nathan Paulsen shared some of the major changes being reviewed.

The new proposal, if enacted, would change the way students pay for their study abroad experiences.

Paulsen’s email outlined four key areas of transition. First, students will be charged Drake tuition for all semester and year-long study abroad options beginning in the fall semester of 2018. Second, students will be awarded the same financial aid they would have received if they had chosen to stay on Drake’s campus.

The third change is that Drake will pay tuition costs charged by the study abroad provider based on the program’s tuition rate. Finally, the proposal states that students will be responsible for any room, board and other fees billed by the provider.

On the “scholarships and financial aid” section of Drake International’s study abroad website, current methods of payment for study abroad programs are outlined. The page states that “depending on the program and site, a semester or year abroad with a Drake-affiliated program is comparable in cost for tuition, room, and board to a semester or year at Drake.”

Paulsen said in an interview later that the proposal has been in the works since the beginning of the year because of declining revenues due to study abroad students paying for other programs. This proposal came about “to try and fix that problem.”

The Student Senate academic affairs committee is currently reviewing the study abroad proposal and will announce an official stance on the proposal as early as next week. According to his email, Paulsen will present the student body’s position at the Board of Trustees’ January meeting.

Academic Affairs Sen. Nick Johnston is unsure about whether the proposal will bring positive changes to the study abroad experience for Drake students.

“There’s a little bit of complexity to this proposal,” Johnston said. “Some of the concerns are how this will affect where students will either be able to travel or have incentives to travel to based on monetary costs that can fluctuate if the proposal passes.

“Our other concern is how much will students be paying more or less, respectively, under this proposal,” Johnston said. “We don’t have answers to that yet, so that’s something we’re investigating.”

The academic affairs committee will meet next week, with the study abroad proposal being the main focus on the agenda.

Paulsen acknowledged during the meeting that many students will be affected by this proposal. He asked for student senators to “keep telling students to email me, because I’ve gotten a large number of emails about this issue on both sides of it, and honestly I feel that every new email I get brings up a new point.”

Paulsen said that students for the proposal say it would be a simpler way to pay for the program.

“Let’s say you’re a junior going abroad, you’ve been paying the Drake tuition two years already … compared to another system and how much that will cost,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen explained the biggest complaint so far are from students who would go on cheaper programs than what the Drake tuition offers.

“I’ve heard a ton of different opinions,” Paulsen said.

Paulsen can be reached at his Drake email, nathan.paulsen@drake.edu.

Student Senate also discussed a number of other topics at the hour-long meeting. The most prominent topic among these was the development of a new app Drake students can use. The app will help students learn more about events on campus via a campus calendar, connect with the surrounding Des Moines community and have access to a number of additional resources.

Student Senate will have its final meeting of the fall semester on Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. in Room 201 of Cowles Library.

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