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Study Abroad Dilemma

HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
edited February 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
So early in this semester, I decided I wanted to study abroad for both the experience and for the resume padding.

I applied to this study abroad program, and this scholarship for funding. I feel I have a very solid chance of getting the scholarship, as it's basically tailor-made for me (financially challenged ethnic minority looking to study a Critical Needs Language in an "unconventional" country, and wrote a fairly awesome statement-of-purpose letter); I've already been accepted to the study abroad program itself.

Problem is, CIEE (the third-party program provider) is asking for the confirmation fee right away, and it's $300 and non-refundable. I won't know if I got the scholarship until "late April or early May." If I were 100% certain I was getting the $8,000 from the scholarship, this obviously wouldn't be a big concern, but given that I'm not 100% certain... I stand to potentially lose $300.

I called up CIEE, and the dude on the other end suggested there wouldn't be a problem postponing my confirmation until I found out whether or not I got the scholarship, and that I should contact the program director directly to make sure. I emailed her, and she pretty much flat out said they couldn't guarantee me a spot if I delayed paying the $300 confirmation fee. I sent her a follow-up email detailing the kind of shitty position she was putting me in, and asking her earnestly to lay out the odds of my spot being given to someone else given the enrollment history of this particular program; it's the weekend, so I haven't gotten her reply yet.

This could go two ways, as I see it:

1. I delay coughing up the $300 until I know for sure that I got the scholarship, and run the risk of my spot being given to someone else so that I wind up with funding but no program (assuming I get the scholarship). It'd already be too late by this point to apply to another summer program, though I guess I could try to directly enroll at some university with relevant coursework for their summer term. Alternatively, I could try to work something out with the scholarship people to apply the funding to a fall program.

The other downside is that I'd have wasted my entire summer because I was kind of counting on this study abroad program to happen.

2. I cough up the $300. If I get the scholarship, everything is hunky-dory and there are high-fives all around.

If I don't get the scholarship, I can either eat the loss or see if the scholarships I applied to from CIEE themselves lowered the cost of attending the program enough that I could pay for it myself. There were like three of them I applied to at once, and they range from a $1,000-5,000 reduction in the cost of the program, and the program costs $6,775 to begin with.

In terms of contacting people about the problem for help: I've already contacted CIEE, though I guess I could try appealing to someone higher up than the person running my program, to see if they can't bend the rules a little given my situation; I've already emailed my study abroad advisor at school about the issue and am waiting for a reply; and I haven't contacted the Gilman scholarship people, but it occurs to me that it might not be the worst idea to let them know about my situation to see if there isn't something they can do for me.

Any ideas?

Hamurabi on

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    Anarchy Rules!Anarchy Rules! Registered User regular
    I would contact the scholarship people - it seems odd to have a scholarship for the financially challenged, with the programme requiring $300. It seems likely that the fee is perhaps included in the scholarship

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    HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    I should clarify. There are two different entities involved here:

    1. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, who gives out awards of up to $8,000 to deserving undergraduate students for the study abroad program of their choice.

    2. CIEE, a reputable and established third-party provider of international study abroad programs.

    The $300 non-refundable confirmation fee is from CIEE. Though CIEE does offer their own "scholarships" (read: reductions in the price of the program), the "scholarship" I was referring to above was the one I've applied for from the Gilman program.

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    QuantumTurkQuantumTurk Registered User regular
    I vote contact the higher ups. My experience is that sometimes the people lower down feel a bit more constrained by the rules, while the directors can do more as they please. Granted, the director may say "rules are rules, tough titty" But, you could get a good one who cares about the program and providing an opportunity to motivated but disadvantaged people such as yourself who will say that they can wait.

    Do understand though, that from their perspective you could be something of a "flight risk" where they end up with no one to send because they gave you a slot and then you couldn't pay. At any rate, good luck!

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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    I would contact the scholarship people - it seems odd to have a scholarship for the financially challenged, with the programme requiring $300. It seems likely that the fee is perhaps included in the scholarship

    Not at all. I just did one in France (program cost of $11,000) and they're pretty unconcerned about that kind of thing.

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    AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    I would pay the $300 if you can. It's a big cost now for potentially high reward.

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    HamurabiHamurabi MiamiRegistered User regular
    The issue isn't the $300 -- I've got the money. The issue is the fact that they want a non-refundable $300 when I don't know if I'll even be able to go.

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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    If it's not an issue, just pay it.

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    AManFromEarthAManFromEarth Let's get to twerk! The King in the SwampRegistered User regular
    Hamurabi wrote: »
    The issue isn't the $300 -- I've got the money. The issue is the fact that they want a non-refundable $300 when I don't know if I'll even be able to go.

    But you'll feel a bit of a dick if you get the scholarship and then lose your place, won't you?

    It's like any application deposit, and with something that can so profoundly improve your life I'd say it's more than worth the chance.

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    zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    How many study abroad programs are there? Is it just this program or no dice, or can you shop around for different programs, maybe one with a refundable deposit, or one where you don't have to schedule so far in advance. IE if you don't give them 300 dollars and they tell you tough shit they are full up can you go through a different provider, or even do it direct without a third party involved?

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    kimekime Queen of Blades Registered User regular
    zepherin wrote: »
    How many study abroad programs are there? Is it just this program or no dice, or can you shop around for different programs, maybe one with a refundable deposit, or one where you don't have to schedule so far in advance. IE if you don't give them 300 dollars and they tell you tough shit they are full up can you go through a different provider, or even do it direct without a third party involved?

    Most of them are gonna be similar deadlines, enough at it probably won't make much of a difference. And they almost all have a deposit. There are lots, though, so it may be worth a shot.

    Also, consider checking CIEE for their own scholarships. The third-party providers almost always have excess funds dedicated to scholarships just because so few people apply to them.

    Your best bet is to keep pressuring CIEE, since they are often fairly flexible and willing to work with students. The more concrete a date you can give them as to when you'll know, the better.

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    EshEsh Tending bar. FFXIV. Motorcycles. Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    zepherin wrote: »
    How many study abroad programs are there? Is it just this program or no dice, or can you shop around for different programs, maybe one with a refundable deposit, or one where you don't have to schedule so far in advance. IE if you don't give them 300 dollars and they tell you tough shit they are full up can you go through a different provider, or even do it direct without a third party involved?

    They all require quite a bit of advance planning (Mine was almost a year in advance) and I've never seen one sans a refundable deposit. Study abroad is a really involved process. You wouldn't believe how much work I had to do to go to France.

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