King's College in London charged international students studying English a tuition of $9,400 to study there in the fall. According to Penn estimates, students paid an additional $8,285 for room, board, travel and other costs.
But a Penn student at King's paid $25,831 to be there, not $17,685. Regardless of what a foreign university may charge, Penn students studying abroad pay the same tuition as their peers back home.
For the 2007-2008 academic year, Penn tuition was $16,080 per semester. If room and board were not included in the foreign school's tuition, students were responsible for that separate payment. Students also paid out of pocket for travel and other associated costs.
Students abroad also paid a $1,466 study abroad fee that funds the Office of International Programs, OIP director Geoffrey Gee said.
Many Penn students studying abroad come to the realization that, on top of the rising costs of living abroad, they're paying more than other students to be there.
"It made me feel a little upset because Penn's tuition is already so expensive," said College junior Abby Lipman, who spent last semester in Barcelona.
Administrators say the University has a right to charge full tuition if the student is enrolled at Penn and receiving credit.
"Just as we don't break down the cost differentials between a biology course and an art history course . we don't break down the difference between a semester at Penn and a semester abroad," Leo Charney, a spokesman for the Provost's office, wrote in an e-mail.
An analysis of what happens to tuition dollars when students go abroad reveals the reasons for Penn's flat pricing policy.
A student's tuition is distributed to three offices on campus, Bonnie Gibson, Penn's vice president of budget and management analysis, wrote in an e-mail.
20 percent goes to the Provost's office. These funds are used for campus-wide academic needs, Gibson wrote.
"All Penn students, regardless of where they are, have access to the same range of services and support," Charney wrote.
College junior Anna Tolmach, who spent last semester in Belgium, disagreed.
"You should pay for whatever you're getting [abroad], not pay the University when you're not there," Tolmach said.
The next 20 percent goes to the student's home school. For most students going abroad, this means the College of Arts and Sciences.
College dean Dennis DeTurck said that while tracing an individual dollar is impossible, these funds likely cover time professors spend reviewing programs, advising students in their departments and maintaining contact with OIP.
Finally, 60 percent goes to OIP to pay for the student's program.
However, around 32 percent of both the OIP and homeschool portions is taken for Penn's financial aid fund.
By the end, OIP receives $6,513 to pay a student's tuition. If the program costs more, Gee said, he must ask the Provost for additional funds. In the case of the $9,400 King's College tuition, this leaves no money for study abroad subsidies.
Penn's approach is common among private universities, but many peer institutions - such as Tufts, Duke, Yale, Harvard and Princeton - have students pay directly to foreign universities, which almost always results in a lower tuition.
For example, Tufts Programs-Abroad director Sheila Bayne said that about half of the estimated 500 juniors who go abroad go on non-Tufts programs. They take a leave of absence and pay a $200 transfer-of-credit fee when they return.
While many Penn students said they would prefer this approach, not all students felt this way. College junior Katie Cowling, who studied in Seville last semester, said it was worth it to have Penn take care of all the enrollment details.Comments powered by Disqus
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