So you want to go abroad, but you’re unsure about the different program types.
The most popular semester programs we offer are exchanges and affiliates — but without knowledge of these programs, it can be hard to decide which is the best fit for you. Luckily, we have prepared an all-inclusive guide to sorting out the differences between the two.
When considering studying abroad, students usually envision an exchange program. With this type of program, The University of Texas at Austin sends a small cohort of students to a university abroad, and the corresponding school sends the same number of their students to study at UT Austin. Exchange programs are available during the fall, spring and summer semesters, and course credit is considered “in-residence.”
This means tuition will be paid directly to UT Austin, and additional charges, such as the application fee and overseas insurance will appear on the student’s “What I Owe” page. Because tuition is paid to UT Austin directly, students can use whatever financial aid or scholarships they use to fund their coursework in Austin, if applicable. However, exchange programs do require more planning because students are responsible for sorting out their own housing accommodations.
Affiliate programs, on the other hand, are study abroad experiences brought to you through a third-party provider. Contrary to exchanges, affiliates tend to be more costly (at least for Texas resident students) because the affiliate university organizes housing accommodations for students.
Furthermore, tuition is paid directly to the affiliate university, and courses taken through affiliates count as transfer credit, so they are not factored into a student’s GPA. But if a student later applies to a graduate program, grades from the affiliate university will be calculated into the GPA that schools utilize for admission. Because UT Austin does not receive tuition in these instances, the Texas Grant, UT Austin Tuition Grant, Be-On-Time Loan, Top 10 percent Scholarship, and tuition-based scholarships are not applicable for this program type.
Affiliate programs are offered over the fall, spring and summer semesters. Many affiliated programs include internship opportunities in which students can work while simultaneously taking classes, if they choose. Because there is no restriction on the number of students who can embark on the program, affiliated programs tend to be less competitive than exchange programs.
I’ve found that most students choose exchange programs when they want to take courses specific to their majors because courses typically only count toward degree requirements if they are taken “in residence.” On the contrary, affiliate programs are more popular amongst students who take elective credits.
If you’ve never been abroad or traveled alone before and are nervous about the experience, I recommend affiliate programs because they give that extra layer of support as far as providing accommodations and preparing students for travel.
Ultimately, students should speak with their academic advisors to decide which program is best for them in terms of credit and available courses.
Bryn Palmer is an Education Abroad Peer Mentor providing support to students interested in studying abroad. Learn about this program at Peer Mentor Programs.
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