Academic Dean Ken Hill details the expeditionary funding program at All College Meeting.Academic Dean Ken Hill details the expeditionary funding program at All College Meeting. Credit: Molly Finch

The college’s new expeditionary funding program, which grants each student up to $1,800 for travel related to classes, senior projects, independent studies, research, and more was presented to approximately 70 people at the Week 2 All College Meeting Sept. 23 by Academic Dean Ken Hill.

Out of the classroom, into the world

The program promises all students the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into the world. The major sources of funding for the program include the Kathryn Davis Fund for Global and Civic Engagement, the Shelby C. Davis Student International Travel awards, the Rabineau Student Professional Development fund, and the Beinecke Student Travel and Living Assistance Fund. Research and travel awards will not be attached to future Presidential and Dean Scholarships, although allowances previously awarded with these scholarships will not be affected.

The expeditionary funds can be used for any COA credit-bearing activities or requirements. These may include lab fees for off-campus classes, travel expenses, residencies, independent studies, for-credit and not-for-credit internships that fit within the COA internship requirement, senior projects, and conference attendance costs if the student is a presenter.  

The money can’t be used for equipment costs, participation in non-COA programs, or travel expenses above economy level. Funds can only be granted with pre-approval; students can’t spend money and try to obtain reimbursement later. Money can’t be “given” to others by students who don’t plan to use the full amount.

“We’re trying to benefit your education,” Hill stated, “but it’s not free money for you to just take with you.  We’ve raised it specifically for COA credit-bearing activities.”

Creating opportunities

Hill’s presentation addressed many of the questions and concerns about these newly-available funds and how the changes will impact educational goals.

Some of the benefits of the new funding system include increased opportunities for off-campus activities, stronger student-advisor relationships, and the chance for faculty to design new courses, Hill said.

“Some students didn’t even consider international travel and expeditionary learning because the price tag was too high,” Hill said. “We want to make sure there are enough funds for every student.” All eligible students, he said, can have at least one expeditionary experience under the new program.

Because these funds will only be available after a student meets with their advisor, goes over planning with them, and obtains their approval, this system encourages greater communication and closer working relationships between students and advisors, Hill said.

Is it fair?

There are some concerns about the structure of the new program, and Hill addressed some of these in his presentation. He also invited anyone with specific concerns to speak to him personally. These concerns include the potential for more out-of-pocket expense for certain areas of study, the equity of the award structure, and the fact that some returning students have already exceeded the limit of the award.

Historically, a higher percentage of funds have been allocated to students pursuing fields that require more travel and expense, such as international studies.  Redistributing funds gives a larger number of students access to opportunities, Hill said, but students in more expensive fields may end up needing to cover more of the cost themselves.

COA students come from a wide array of socioeconomic backgrounds. Some wondered if the school should award more money to students with less resources. Hill addressed this concern by explaining that many students whose parents are paying full tuition are responsible for all additional costs, which still leaves them with a large burden. It also doesn’t seem fair that the people already paying the most should have to pay even more, he said.

Several returning students who have accessed more than $1,800 before this policy change have expressed concern about funding the senior projects or travel they were hoping to do. Hill informed these students that they can still apply for limited assistance from the Advanced Student Work Fund (formerly the Rothschild Fund), but that access will be competitive.

The details

For approval to be granted, a student must be in good academic, social and financial standing at the time of application. Additionally, students must have attended COA for at least three academic terms before they may access funds. Transfer students that have transferred in at least one year of credit must have attended COA for at least one term.  

Students may access up to $1,000 in their second year. In their third year and beyond, students will have full access to funds. Only undergraduate students are eligible. Each person may draw up to $1,800 over no more than three separate draws. The minimum draw is $500, and each draw will be rounded to the nearest $100.   

When students return from their travels, each person will be asked to write a brief report to the Academic Affairs Committee and Development, in addition to a thank-you letter to the fund’s patron.  Although no receipts of expenditures are required, proof of travel and academic activity should be included in the report.

How do I access these funds?

First identify a fundable project, then meet with your advisor to discuss the project, timing, and implications.  When you have your advisor’s approval, fill out the form to verify academic standing through the Academic Dean’s office, wellness and safety protocol through the student life office, and fund availability through the business office.  For the fall 2015 term, the deadline is October 16.  Don’t forget to write a thank-you letter when you’re done!

Still have questions?

If you want to know more about how this opportunity applies to you personally or have additional questions or concerns about the expeditionary funding program, contact your advisor or Ken Hill.