Last Updated on May 6, 2020.
Verto Education was founded on three principals: inclusion, affordability and enrichment. These values guide all aspects of our program design from how we create impactful curriculum to how we hire our amazing staff.
At Verto, we believe in giving all students the opportunity for an incredible education abroad regardless of their background. In fact, we are so committed to this mission that we have created an exciting new opportunity to make a semester with Verto even more accessible for all students.
We are thrilled to announce The Verto Education Opportunity Grant. This grant can significantly lower the cost of our Latin America and Hawaii semesters to make them even more affordable for those who qualify.
We know that planning for college might be especially challenging right now as many families navigate financial instability due to the pandemic. The Opportunity Grant has emerged from our unwavering quest to ensure that the highest quality education for fall 2020 is accessible to all students.
So, why do we care about accessibility in the first place?
The current models for college and study abroad are inaccessible for so many students.
Gaining college acceptance requires an unbelievable amount of time, effort, and resources. Whether it’s paying tons for application fees and testing, or spending hours filling out forms, the college admissions process has become increasingly prohibitive.
And that’s without considering the massive loans many students have to take out in order to pay tuition. In 2017-2018, the average student debt for bachelor’s degree recipients was a whopping $29,000 according to the College Board. For those who are forced to take out loans to pay for school, attending a study abroad program can be highly unrealistic especially in these times of economic uncertainty.
It is clear that the current model for higher education prioritizes wealthy students who have the knowledge and capital to navigate the many barriers to entry.
Those barriers result in serious underrepresentation racially, ethnically, and financially on college campuses. The underrepresentation is especially pronounced in study abroad; a study by the Institute for the International Education of Students (IIE) reflected that 72.9 percent of students studying abroad were White in 2016.
Countless students are being denied higher education and transformative study abroad experiences.
This reality is extremely unfortunate considering the immense positive impact of study abroad on student success.
We know from a University System of Georgia study that students who study abroad have improved academic performance, higher graduation rates and better cultural awareness. For low-income and minority students, the impact of study abroad on improved graduation rates was found to be particularly dramatic.
Researchers have also found some major connections between study abroad and improved employability. An IIE study of over 4,500 U.S. college and university alumni found that a majority of students who studied abroad reported gaining 14/15 of the career skills identified as being most desired by 21st-century employers. The majority of students interviewed also reported that “their study abroad experience contributed to a job offer at some point” or agreed that “the skills gained through study abroad had proven relevant and useful throughout their careers.”
Most excitingly though, we believe deeply in the benefits of immersive, international education on the future of society.
Study abroad experiences promote the development of cross-cultural competency, tolerance, and compassion, which we believe are critical values for a better world.
International education helps students better understand their cultural biases and develop more sophisticated frameworks for looking at the world, as shown in an IIE study. Most students in the study also agreed that their study abroad experiences “influenced them to seek out a greater diversity of friends […and] explore other cultures.”
We have seen that exposure to diverse intellectual and social experiences through study abroad can positively shape students’ compassionate engagement with the world around them.
And these benefits are more important now than ever.
If we ever thought as a society or as a world that we are not all connected, this pandemic has proved us wrong. The impact of this virus underscores the importance of building genuine cross-cultural understanding and compassion.
We have seen that this world is in desperate need of leaders who have developed their empathy, maturity, and global perspective.
How do we put our beliefs in accessibility and inclusivity into practice?
All of our programs were designed intentionally to make travel the path of least resistance to a college degree. Here’s how we walk the walk:
Taking Accessibility to the Next Level: The Verto Education Opportunity Grant
While we’ve built accessibility into the nature of all of our semesters, we are so excited to take our efforts towards inclusion to the next level through our Opportunity Grant.
We are now able to significantly lower the cost of the Verto Latin America and Hawaii semesters by using a combination of Federal Financial Aid through a Pell Grant and need-based financial aid provided by Verto Education.
All students who apply and are admitted to the Latin America or Hawaii semesters, and who apply for financial aid, will be eligible to be reviewed for the Verto Education Opportunity Grant. This is a need-based grant and eligibility can be determined by filing a FAFSA.
For those who receive the grant, the cost of the Latin America and Hawaii semesters can be reduced to as low as $5k and $13k respectively. Considering that the average cost of study abroad has been found to hover around $18,000 per semester, our Opportunity Grant is an exceptional opportunity to make study abroad more accessible.
At Verto, we believe that international education is not only incredibly beneficial but also completely do-able.
While there are so many unknowns at this challenging time, Verto’s commitment to the highest quality education remains clear. All Verto fall programs are continuing as planned (see our Fall Scenario Plan) and we remain fully committed to ensuring that our students stay on track to enroll at a partner institution and graduate in four years (as outlined in our Enrollment Guarantee).
More than ever, Verto believes in the purpose of international education and we encourage incoming freshmen to embody that purpose by forging ahead and planning for a better future with Verto.
We’d love to chat if you want to learn more about how we can make a semester abroad possible for you.