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College students encouraged to study abroad

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Brittany Aucoin, pre-nursing freshman, talks with history senior Paul Bachavach about study abroad opportunities in Germany. (Photo Credit: Chris Branch) Brittany Aucoin, pre-nursing freshman, talks with history senior Paul Bachavach about study abroad opportunities in Germany. (Photo Credit: Chris Branch)

By Chris Branch | LSU Student

Studying abroad has become a staple of college education, but it might not be as simple a fare as it has been in the past.

A lack of funding – for both students and the university – has led to a decrease in student participation in studying abroad, according to the director of Academic Programs Abroad, Harald Leder, who coordinate the Study Abroad Fair on the LSU Union this past week.

"I'm always worried," Leder said about the well being of APA. "But we should be OK."

Overall, 50 fewer students studied abroad in 2010 than in 2009. In the summer programs, 90 fewer students participated in 2010 than in 2009.

"We definitely see the economic downturn," Leder said.

Leder said he and his organization will have to keep coming up with new angles and new ways to attract students.

"We're going to be able to maintain ourselves," Leder said.

APA is now self-sufficient, Leder noted. The organization used to receive funds from the university.

Leder and company offer opportunities for students in 48 countries, according to its website. Many students can pay LSU tuition to attend the exchange school of their choice, but still have to pay room and board at that school.

A summer program usually costs around $2,000 to $4,000, according to the APA website. That includes most meals and housing, but not airfare.

Kinesiology junior Meghan Brown, who was at the fair looking for a summer program, said the money factor wasn't a big issue to her.

"It's not a worry for me," Brown said

Oppositely, pre-nursing freshman Brittany Aucoin said the high cost could be a deterrent.

"I want to go to England and find a good nursing program," Aucoin said. "The money is a worry, but we'll see if it prevents me from going."

The national exchange program, also offered by APA, is a cheaper option, something LSU History Professor Carolyn Lewis hopes students will consider.

Lewis set up shop at the fair as its only new participant.

She will be teaching a class in the spring focusing on the history of civil rights. During spring break, she will offer a field trip for the students in her class to visit historical sites connected to the civil rights struggle in the South.

"I'm curious to see how many students sign up," Lewis said. "We're trying to keep the cost low."

Lewis said the trip will charge students an all-inclusive fee of $900. The group will make stops Jackson, Miss., Memphis, Tenn., Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Montgomery, Ala., Selma, Ala. and Meridian, Miss.

"We're going to try and take as many backroads as possible," Lewis said.

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