Why did you choose to go on your study abroad program through the AEC?
Price, quality of the program, the way in which information was presented on the website and because I received quick feedback when I asked questions.
It's really tough to put them (criteria) in order; it was really the whole package that made me choose - you offered a comprehensive program that gave me enough autonomy to suit my and my home university's requirements and it was laid out in a straight-forward way that made the process easy to get through. And I'm actually saving money by using you guys.
Was the cost of going through the AEC direct enrollment program (meaning paying the university tuition fees with no management fees charged) weight in on your decision to go through the AEC?
It certainly did; that's part of the reason I chose the AEC over other independent programs.
Any idea of the savings?
In comparison with the other programs I looked at online, I'd estimate I ended up saving somewhere between 1000-3000 dollars, depending what program you look at.
Was it worth going through a direct enrollment program?
Most certainly; it saves money and it is a truly unique experiment in testing one's independence.
Tell us more about the petition process and using an independent program such as the AEC. Did your university have an Australia program? What made you consider the AEC?
At NYU there was no Australia program available for my major. So, since NYU did not have an Australia study abroad program for my major, if I wanted to come here, it was all on my shoulders. They didn't offer a list of independent programs or other university programs because being one of the most highly rated and widespread study abroad universities, they understandably rely on what they have already established without too much need for diversification.
So it was up to me to search the internet first to find the AEC and then make a convincing case as to why this program and this location would offer me a unique cultural and educational experience that I could not acquire through one of their pre-established sites. The petition process included a lot of paperwork as well as a letter of intent directed to the dean of my college describing my hopes for the program, my reasons for choosing the AEC, and demonstrating the comparability and uniqueness of the university I would be attending. The paperwork was mainly concerned with getting approval for the courses I would be taking; I had to acquire syllabi for my program to present to the head of my Major departments to get their pre-approval for the courses, get my study abroad adviser to sign that I would be getting credit for the courses I was to take, and then submit these forms along with syllabi, a leave of absence form, and my letter of intent to the dean for final approval, which I obviously received about 2 weeks afterward.
What was the criteria to go on an independent program via a petition process? What information did your school require about the AEC program in order to consider the petition from you?
They didn't need much; I provided them with a couple of the pages from your website detailing your aims as an organization, the advantages to using your program, and a bit about the university I would be attending.
Did you receive U.S. financial aid administered by your school to go on the AEC program?
Yes, I am funding this program exclusively through federal aid/loans: a combination of the Pell grant, Stafford Loans, and a Parent Plus Loan.
Did you require a consortium agreement signed by your school and the AEC or the Host school? Did the AEC help with this process?
Yes, it was necessary for the aid/loans to transfer; very little involvement other than getting my university fill out the agreement and thanks to the AEC who arranged the signature requirements from the Host School.
Anything else you can advise which made the process simple enough?
It was great to have the AEC doing most all the contacting with the foreign university. It would have been heaps more difficult if I had tried to directly enroll on my own.
Note. The AEC does assist with step by step procedures re the petition process and what students need to do.
Was the lead time required to go through the petition process more than applying for a program to Australia through your school or your school’s preferred program?
It most certainly was much more time consuming, but completely worth it.
An example is housing. The AEC did provide me with all the options available through the University of Sydney and the surrounding area. I wanted to have good housing but it had to be affordable. I did not want to take up expensive packages. I wanted to do more with my study abroad experience. In the end, I chose from the list of options to take up housing not far from the University of Sydney but did require that I use public transport or a 20 minute walk. My housing did not tie me into a full semester contract. It was flexible as I wanted to actually be there and see if it could work and have the option to change if I chose to do so. The AEC worked with me and provided useful information and also links so I could make the final decision. I had control. In the end I did get to Australia and stayed in the housing I had booked for but realized there were better and more cost effective options. As long as you have a mobile (cell) phone and look for flyers posted around the city on lamp posts and such and use the University of Sydney Housing Office and newspaper for leads; chances are you'll find a place that has internet and laundry and facilities included in a much better part of town for much less than the $180 per week I was paying at the location I had chosen when I got there. The A$180 per week for 20 weeks to cover my semester abroad was still much cheaper (total A$3600, roughly US$3100) for housing than any traditional program would offer but this is because I used the direct enrollment service through AEC and had options and flexibility. In the end a few weeks after my arrival, I moved from the housing I originally went to because I had the level of flexibility that allowed me to do so.
I'm now living in Ultimo (you may look up the map to see where this area is - it is close to the University Sydney) for A$135 per week which includes everything like internet, laundry facilities etc and I only have to live with 2 other girls- a much better situation for me. I therefore, saved not just on the program cost by going on the direct enrollment service but I also saved heaps on housing because I had the level of flexibility to change things along the way.
What about housing and services through the AEC program?
I believe I received the support and services that I required. AEC provides support and quick responses to my questions. Read my comments about housing in the response to the previous question