Study Abroad Courtesy of the Associated Students

Some people say the world itself is the greatest of all teachers.

While most of us would agree that a chance to travel the world in all its educational glory sounds great, receiving school credit makes the opportunity so much more satisfying; and what's more, going on the school dime. Yes, the study abroad programs
here on campus are without a doubt an
amazing opportunity for students, but with rumors of the Associated Students withholding funds, is this scenario perhaps on its way towards becoming a short-lived dream? Not quite.

Last summer the study abroad program took students to Latin America and South Africa. These trips truly raised the bar and created even more interest for a program already
popular beyond measure. The trips had an average of 30 students each.

One of the students who participated in this round of study abroad travels was LeeAnna Bowman-Carpio. "It was truly amazing, and one of the most spectacular programs we have
on campus," said Bowman-Carpio who loved the program so much that she is creating a presentation to show students later this month about the benefits of study abroad, and to inform them about the financial options that are available, though many students are unaware of them.

This financial aid is crucial since
the costs of these trips can reach well
into $5,000. The costs include a roundtrip
plane ticket, a list of meals, hotel
accommodations, transportation, tips to tour guides and museum tickets depending on the trip. The fee does not include the tuition fees, textbooks, meals, personal expenses, passport fees and a two hundred dollar tax.
When you consider the $5,000 already being spent, and the "not included in the price list" which reaches well over $1,000, it's pretty obvious only the most privileged of
SMC students would under normal
circumstances be able to afford this
Of course the program directors have taken some steps that vary the cost of the trip.

For example, on the summer Italy trip students have an option of what type of room they would like to stay at. They can either share a student apartment, or have their own
hotel room. However, when you are talking about money in the thousands, an extra hundred dollars isn't exactly a deal breaker.

There is a controversy involving the financial-aid issues. Since the majority
of the money for these financial aid packages is donated by the Associated Students, there are stipulations involved with this donation.

Last November, the Associated Students
allocated $66,825 for the financial aid of SMC students who attended the Latin America and South Africa programs. Approximately $38,000 of this fund was not used because the
spring program was canceled.

However, there are already two study abroad programs set up for this summer. One is a trip to London and Paris, and the other is the aforementioned Italy trip. Both of
which generally run through all of July. The program would like to use the left over $38,000 for financial aid for the students.

This has created a minor spark, since the
Associated Students have not seen the stipulations assigned to the winter programs followed. The stipulation was to promote the Associated Students, give them some credit for the journey and a written report from
the students involved to give the Associated Students an idea of where there money was going.

All parties involved have admitted that this was clearly a lack of communication and
that there was no mischief involved. Those involved in the study abroad programs are rightfully grateful to the Associated Students. "There are not many student governments that give out the money they give us," said archeology professor Brandon
Lewis who is one the key members of maintaining the program.

With the Associated Students seemingly en-route to approve the remaining $38,000 for financial aid for summer programs, and a campus already filled with buzz in regards to
the upcoming trips it looks like clear
weather for travelers of the study abroad program.