Students planning to travel abroad this summer may find their funding options more limited because of budget cuts to the International Summer Award program.
ISA funding — which provides need-based funding for undergraduates to participate in study abroad and international internship programs based on the amount of financial aid they receive during the academic year — will now be capped at $10,000. Students will only be able to receive one grant over the course of their Yale career, and international students will no longer be able to use ISA funding to return home during the summer. In addition, students on financial aid who participate in programs lasting less than 10 weeks may no longer receive full exemption from the money they are expected to earn over the summer as part of their aid packages.
Though all six students interviewed said they were disappointed by the new restrictions, some said they are relieved the bulk of the ISA program has been retained.
“We regret not being able to give second ISAs, but since the original intent was to ensure an experience abroad for all undergraduates, and not multiple experiences, you will understand that in a time of severe budget cuts we have had to make hard choices,” said Jane Edwards, associate dean for international affairs. “I think the major impact will be that students will have to think more carefully about their choice of program and plan for the effective use of all their resources.”
Katelyn Martin ’12 said the fact that ISA no longer will no longer cover all of her expected summer contribution according to need makes traveling abroad more complicated because she will have to spend some of her time earning money.
“It would be nice to not worry about having to work over the summer,” said Martin, who worked at a ice-cream shop last summer but hopes to study in Japan one summer.
Still, other students said the changes to the summer income contribution — projected to be a maximum of $2,450 for this year — will not significantly affect them. But because the contribution is calibrated to a student’s financial aid, they said, it is possible to pay the contribution by saving up during the semester or turning to their families for funds. Students said they were more troubled by the new limit on the number of ISAs that can be granted.
Under the original ISA provisions, students could obtain a second ISA grant that allowed them to use language skills acquired in a previous ISA-funded program. Patricia Alejandro ’12 said she had hoped to use this provision to fund an summer internship in Georgia this year, after using an ISA to study Russian in St. Petersburg, Russia, last summer. That program cost over $10,000, she said, and would not have been financially feasible without an ISA grant.
But because of the changes, if she wants to go to Georgia, Alejandro must now apply for fellowships that include lengthy applications and eligibility restrictions.
Likewise, Lidiya Dervisheva ’13 said while she is glad ISA summer funding is still available — she hopes to spend this summer studying French in Paris — she is disappointed that she will not have the opportunity to spend additional time abroad with a second ISA grant. But, she said, the cuts do not come as a surprise.
“Yale has a budget crisis, and everyone has to make sacrifices,” she said
Undergraduate Career Services Director Philip Jones said the changes to the ISA program will not have a major impact on how most students choose to spend their summer because the provisions remain generous.
“Overall it’s not going to be that big of a change,” he said.
Similarly, Ann Kuhlman, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars said she expects few international students to be affected by the new restriction on ISA funding to return home, as most of them tend to use the grant toward summer study and internships.
The number of Yale students spending the summer abroad has more than doubled since 2003, and demand for the International Summer Award has grown steadily since it was introduced in 2005. Last year, according to the Center for International Experience, 474 students claimed the award — up 56 percent from the previous year.