SOURCE: NextStudent

January 02, 2008 11:30 ET

With Value of Dollar Falling, College Study-Abroad Costs Rising

Students Applying for 2008 Programs Can Still Take Advantage of Lower-Cost Destinations

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - January 2, 2008) - As the value of the dollar continues to fall and study-abroad costs continue to rise, undergraduate and graduate students who want to spend a semester overseas may be able to make their international studies more affordable simply by rethinking their destination. To help students keep study-abroad costs financially feasible and minimize their need for student loans, NextStudent, a leading Phoenix-based education funding company, encourages applicants to consider lower-cost destinations for their study-abroad experience.

In the last year alone, the U.S. dollar has fallen 5 percent against the pound, 7 percent against the yen, 10 percent against the euro and 14 percent against the Canadian dollar -- which means U.S. students studying overseas are finding that their dollar-based budget buys a lot less than it used to.

Even amid efforts to encourage more students to take a semester or year abroad, the decline in the dollar's value has led some schools to cut back on study-abroad program offerings and raise program charges to students, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education ("Study-Abroad Officials Feel the Pain of Dollar's Plunge," Dec. 14, 2007). Study-abroad costs are up 10 to 15 percent over the last several years, and schools are concerned that low-income students, especially, may be financially deterred from going overseas.

One of the sharpest declines in the dollar's value has come against the euro in Europe, which, according to the Institute of International Education, is the chosen destination for almost 60 percent of all U.S. students who study abroad. According to the IIE, the top five study-abroad destinations are Britain, Italy, Spain, France and Australia.

But students may be able to find a more affordable study-abroad program by opting for a less mainstream location in Central or South America, Asia, or Africa, where currency exchange rates are more favorable and the dollar stretches further than it does at the top five destinations. Many students are already taking advantage of these lower-cost destinations. As the Chronicle reports, the number of students enrolling in the Cultural Experiences Abroad program in Buenos Aires this semester is up 52 percent over a year ago, and the number of students enrolling in the CEA program in Prague (which hasn't yet converted over to the euro) is up 150 percent.

For parents, undergraduates, and graduate students looking for help with financing a study abroad program, NextStudent offers a variety of parent and student loans, as well as the award-winning NextStudent Scholarship Search Engine, where students can look for scholarships and grants available specifically for foreign study programs.

Students can usually apply their federal financial aid to school-approved study-abroad programs -- they should check with their school financial aid office. But if students find that, even after scholarships, federal student loans and grants, their study abroad costs still exceed their available financial aid, NextStudent Private Student Loans could provide the additional financial assistance they need. Federal student loans generally offer more attractive terms than private student loans, so study-abroad students and their parents should always look into their federal financing options first.

About NextStudent

NextStudent, Federal Lender Code 834051, is dedicated to helping students and their families find affordable ways to pay for college. NextStudent offers one-on-one education finance counseling and has a portfolio of highly competitive education finance products and services, including a free online scholarship search engine, federally guaranteed parent and student loans, private student loans, both federal and private student loan consolidation programs, and college savings plans.

For more information about NextStudent and its student loan programs, please visit our website at www.nextstudent.com.

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