This year, the International Summer Award will be capped at a higher amount, though it will no longer include money for the student income contribution.
According to the website of the Center for International and Professional Experience, the ISA provides eligible undergraduate students receiving financial aid from the University with a stipend to fund one summer experience abroad. The ISA funds a portion of a student’s study abroad program budget, based on the student’s demonstrated financial need. In past years, the ISA was adjusted to cover a portion of the student income contribution — the component of a financial aid award that asks students to contribute money made over the summer to their tuition. For the 2014–15 academic year, the minimum student contribution for freshmen is $1,625. This figure is $3,050 for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
“In past years, students received an allocation which was specifically intended to cover a portion of the summer SIC, prorated for the duration of the experience,” Dean of International and Professional Experience Jane Edwards said in an email. “However, since it came to students as part of a single check in May, and since many students’ summer programs cost more than the allowed ISA amount — there is a cap — this money was often used by students to cover portions of their summer expenses.”
Because students studying abroad are not able to work summer jobs, a portion of the student income contribution was included in their ISAs, based on the length of their program. The ISA was also formerly capped at $10,000, which was the amount received by students on complete financial aid. For the summer of 2015, the maximum ISA has been increased to $10,500, and the award will no longer take into account the SIC.
Edwards said the University recognized that the majority of students receiving the ISA are high need, and that an increasing number of students were hitting the $10,000 cap each year, either due to program cost or the addition of the SIC award. Of the 186 students who received complete awards of $10,000 for the summer of 2014, 161 of these students participated in programs that cost more than $10,000, meaning that they received no SIC funding at all, she said.
Because most students receiving the previous maximum of $10,000 were still not receiving enough aid to fully fund their trips abroad, Edwards said, it was necessary to raise the cap. Updating the calculation of the ISA, both by raising the overall cap and eliminating partial coverage of the SIC, is designed to help the students with the highest amount of financial need, she said.
“The majority of students who received the previous maximum of $10,000 were receiving less aid than we calculated they needed,” she said. “Based on this, raising the cap was necessary, but since funding was not increased we needed to think critically about how best to allocate those funds.”
The ISA, which provided funding to 421 students last summer, is unique to Yale, Edwards said. She added that although the award is supported generously by donors, the University contributed $1,696,344 from its operating budget to ISA funding last year.
Students who received full awards of $10,000 last year said they supported this year’s cap increase, since it guarantees an extra $500 to students whose programs may not have been completely funded by the ISA otherwise.
Amanda Aguilera ’17, who received an ISA of $10,000 last year for a Yale Summer Session program that cost roughly $13,000 overall, said that although she was awarded the maximum amount of aid possible, she was still responsible for both funding a portion of her trip abroad and paying the SIC the following academic year.
“Increasing the cap by $500 will help a great deal of students, since the ISA was not always sufficient before,” Aguilera said.
However, students not receiving full ISAs dissented, claiming the policy change mainly places a burden on middle class students.
Adam Gerard ’17 said that although some students will receive an extra $500 in ISA money this year, this amount is still much less than the prorated amount that many students would have received to cover parts of their student income contributions. He added that raising the cap does not help students who are not receiving full financial aid.
Gerard added that he had no knowledge of the changes to this year’s ISA until he met with someone at the CIPE about his trip abroad.
“I made a budget based on what I expected to be spending, and now this budget is completely not functional because the ISA is not providing for that,” Gerard said. “So it’s really pushing out middle-class students who could really benefit from that type of financial assistance.”
William Conlon ’17 said he first noticed the changes to the ISA when he calculated his projected award on the CIPE website and saw no reference to the award being adjusted to partially cover the SIC. He added that he later attended a study abroad info session, at which a passing reference was made to the change near the end of the presentation.
None of the five students interviewed aside from Conlon and Gerard said they had heard about this year’s changes to the ISA. Aguilera said that because many students still are unaware of the policy change, they might be calculating their budgets the wrong way. Because the change can have a positive effect on students receiving full financial aid, Aguilera said, it is in the interest of CIPE to publicize it more widely.
The deadline for applying for an ISA for the summer of 2015 is May 1.