Off-Campus Programs trims costs of May abroad trips


Samantha Fraiser

Students now have the opportunity to study at a reduced cost.

May term abroad programs will cost $400-$1000 less this year thanks to efforts spearheaded by Provost Noah Toly and Dr. Cynthia Slagter, director of the Off-Campus Programs office.

According to Slagter, the move to reduce costs is due to a “welcome” recalculation of the fees for summer programs. A key change is the factoring of tuition fees into the overall cost of the trips. In the past these have been charged separately.

According to Slagter, tuition has always been applied to the costs of the abroad programs, going towards the cost of instruction at another university, insurance for students and instructors and the overhead of the program. In recalculating programs costs, her office found that tuition plus the standard fees would more than cover the total costs. The surplus will count against the direct cost paid by students, lowering the cost of programs by anywhere from $400 to $1000, varying by program.

Toly told Chimes that his love of experiential learning spurred his interest in the initiative. As a student at Wheaton, Toly took several trips abroad, which he said played “a major role” in his education. As a professor, he led several trips on four continents.

Slagter recognized Calvin’s “strong commitment to global connections and off-campus studies,” and Toly noted that Calvin is a leader in getting students off campus and into the world, learning from experience. Now at Calvin, Toly wants to “put [off-campus] programs at the center of a compelling learning experience for students.”

By decreasing cost, Toly hopes to reduce barriers for student participation and increase “diversity of perspective and experience represented among participants.” He said the changes should incentivize faculty to build off-campus opportunities into more of Calvin’s academic programs.

Mason Luce, a junior, is part of the Calvin Spanish Department’s trip to Oviedo, Spain this semester. He told Chimes that “any way to lower the barrier” that prevents students from getting off campus is a great thing.

However, Luce said that even in the best-case scenario of a $1000 cut, the reduction is just not that substantial. To him, it’s a small amount taken off of a trip “that costs thousands of dollars already.” His own trip has put him a few thousand dollars above what a normal semester costs.