One of the best investments you can make in your education is studying abroad. “Globalization has changed the way the world works, and study abroad is crucial for preparing students to enter the 21st century workforce,” according to Daniel Obst, deputy vice president of the Institute of International Education (IIE), which focuses on advancing international education and access to education worldwide.
Data collected for an IIE briefing paper backs up Obst’s point. Two hundred senior-level U.S. and international business leaders reported that most of their HR departments took into consideration their recruits’ international experience when hiring, promoting and determining a new assignment. Thirty percent even did so when deciding on a starting salary.
Spain is one of the most popular study abroad destinations for U.S. students. According to IIE’s data, 9% of all U.S. students abroad are studying in Spain. Because of its enormous popularity, Spain offers an impressive number of choices for where, when and what to study. IIEPassport lists more than 900 choices: programs sponsored by universities, consortiums of academic institutions and study abroad organizations, plus direct enrollment and student exchange possibilities. For help in making an informed decision about what experience is best for you, check out the field’s bible, “A Student Guide to Study Abroad,” published by IIE and the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS).
How much will study in Spain cost?
Sponsored programs have varying price tags. We’ve chosen, as a representative example, AIFS’s study program in Barcelona at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, which is offered both for fall and spring semesters and for a full academic year. The cost for one semester in 2015–2016 is $11,795. Cost includes tuition, housing, some meals (if a homestay housing option is chosen), excursions and cultural activities, day trips and the on-site services of a resident director. Optional airfare packages are available. Independent study may cost less than a sponsored program but will involve much, much more footwork.
Can I get financial aid?
U.S. universities and colleges are required by federal law to continue giving federal funds to students who participate in approved study abroad programs. Discuss with your own financial aid office whether the specific aid you are receiving from your school will be transferable. Pay careful attention to deadlines. For more on financing your study abroad, read How to Finance Your Studies Abroad. And IIEPassport’s Study Abroad Funding has information on scholarships and grants.
Of special interest is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, which gives priority to students who have been traditionally underrepresented in education abroad. Check also with the study abroad program you choose; it most likely has its own financial aid arrangements.