The falling value of the U.S. dollar against other currencies has made it increasingly expensive for AU students to study abroad.
Europe is currently the most expensive region for American students to visit; the exchange rate in countries that use the euro is now .635 euros per U.S. dollar. One year ago Friday, the rate was .748 euros per U.S. dollars. That same day in 2004, the exchange rate was .824 euros per U.S. dollar, according to XE.com, a Web site that compiles foreign exchange rates.
Most AU students who study abroad go to Europe, according to AU Abroad and Abroad at AU Director Sara E. Dumont.
Abroad students are now paying more for everything - including housing, food, local travel and alcohol. Tuition is the only price that has and will remain constant. Students continue to pay regular AU tuition while abroad, and AU pays the foreign school’s tuition on their behalf, Dumont said.
Hilary Ross, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of International Service, is studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, this semester. Ross said she has spent more in Denmark than she would have in D.C., even though her room is much cheaper. She pays $450 per month for a single room and private bathroom.
The current Denmark exchange rate is 4.738 Danish krones per U.S. dollar, compared to 6.044 krones per U.S. dollar in 2004. The dollar has even less value in Denmark than in countries that use the euro, according to XE.com.
Food is definitely more expensive, Ross said.
“A breakfast of a muffin and hot chocolate at a coffee shop down the street from school costs $10,” she said in an e-mail.
Ross saves money by buying sale items at the grocery store, foregoing meat and imported items and consuming less alcohol. A beer in Copenhagen costs $8 to $10, and a vodka and cranberry juice can cost more than $10, she said.
The exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is not as bad in South America, according to Dumont.
Ross said she has traveled throughout Europe during her time abroad, and things are cheaper in the poorer countries that use the euro, such as Portugal. Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, are two of the most expensive cities in Europe, she said in an e-mail.
Fewer AU students plan to study abroad during the fall 2008 semester, but Dumont said she attributes this to students’ desire to be in the U.S. during the upcoming presidential election. The dollar has fallen for the past three years, but the number of students studying abroad has actually increased during that time, Dumont said.
Emily Hunter Cohen, a sophomore in SIS, said she still plans to study in Paris next spring despite the increased costs.
“[Paris] is going to require an insane amount of money,” she said. “I have been working all year, and by the end of this semester I will have made about $4,000, yet I am still scared that I will go into debt.”
The AU Abroad and Financial Aid offices are trying to make studying abroad affordable for all students, according to Dumont.
“[Their goal is to] try to set up and manage our programs so that the total cost of tuition, room and board for a semester is roughly the same as staying at AU,” she said.
Cohen said she is concerned that by the time she gets to Paris, the U.S. dollar will have lost even more value against the euro.
“If the French language and culture were not some of my passions, I would likely go to Africa or South America because it would be cheaper,” she said.