Despite Costs Study Abroad Offers New Opportunities

By Victoria Swyers

Studying abroad provided Taylor Ogden her first opportunity to ride a plane, train and subway.

The University of Georgia senior studied abroad every summer throughout her college career, visiting Scotland, South Africa and Costa Rica.

“Study abroad is so different than just traveling in general because you’re immersed in a culture, and you’re really specializing in something in that context,” Ogden said.

According to the global cost analysis calculated by GoAbroad, the average cost of studying abroad in 2019 was $14,295 per semester. Costs vary by destination location and program length. Ogden’s trip to South Africa lasted a little over a month and cost the most— totaling $8,594.

The sociology and communications studies major from Jesup, Georgia, said she always wanted to study abroad and began saving at the beginning of her freshman year.

Ogden’s parents paid the program fee, flight and tuition for each trip, using student loans to cover some costs. Ogden said she saved money from every Christmas and birthday for additional experiences abroad.

Ogden is also a recipient of the Hope Scholarship, Georgia’s scholarship program for academic achievement, which is applied to tuition. She also applied for scholarships through the Office of Global Engagement’s (OGE) general scholarship pool. Every student who studies abroad pays in-state tuition for academic credit.

Each summer session was dedicated to a different subject. Ogden said studying abroad in Scotland inspired her to switch from an education major to sociology and communication studies.

Changing majors led Ogden to find her “dream job” as a sales learning coordinator, which she will begin after graduation. While interviewing, Ogden said her study abroad experiences gave her an “edge professionally.”

Ogden said studying abroad “really does give you that edge that you can’t put a price on in the workplace.”

Rebekah Ryan, distance learning coordinator for the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, said study abroad program fees vary. For Grady, program fees cover lodging, two dinner celebrations upon arrival and departure, mandatory events and some transportation costs. Most meals are not included.

Ryan said she tries to meet with interested students as early as possible to help them budget.

“When you can kind of break down how much the program fee covers, it’s a little less scary because those are things that you would normally have to find on your own if you were to travel on your own, but you’re also getting course credit while doing this,” Ryan said.

Ryan said she makes sure students know the amount they will be responsible for because once committed, students are legally obligated to pay.

“Don’t let money [and] the thought of how much it costs scare you away from pursuing it because it really is an amazing opportunity,” Ryan said.

Students should check for scholarships often because national scholarship deadlines are variable and may not match program deadlines, Ryan said.

Ogden did not receive a scholarship for her Scotland study abroad, but she received one scholarship each for South Africa and Costa Rica.

Ogden feels so passionately about studying abroad that she now has a student job at OGE as an adviser.

She said her biggest piece of advice to students looking for scholarships is to identify details about yourself that make you unique and apply for related scholarships— both through your college and nationally.

“I definitely think once you have the opportunity to [study abroad], it’s kind of addicting and each experience has been totally different,” Ogden said. “I wouldn’t take back any of them”

Victoria Swyers is a journalism student at the University of Georgia. The reporting for this article was completed prior to the campus closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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