As the majority of America’s college students struggle to pay rising tuition bills and prepare to graduate with overwhelming debt loads, an elite group of students are paying thousands more per semester to study Italian art in the Tuscan hills, or learn about modern architecture from the top floor of the world’s tallest building in Dubai.
It’s college for the 1 percent.
Still, as one of the largest generations in the U.S. moves through the higher education system, the number of American college students studying abroad continues to steadily increase.
While those studying abroad only represents a small portion of college students (a little over 1 percent), in 2011, 273,986 were enrolled in a semester-program abroad, according to the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, up from just over 260,000 in 2009. Most major universities continue to offer and add more programs, and tout them to perspective freshmen.
The select number of American students studying abroad is likely attributed to the cost of the programs. While the average cost of a study abroad program at a state university tends to be between $3,000 and $10,000 per semester, some schools offer programs that cost two to three times as much—many of which include swanky residence halls with private cooks and swimming pools, and luxurious excursions to popular destinations.