Financing Florence


Heather Wiley

A view of Florence rooftops in July 2018.

Students interested in studying abroad should customize a plan to receive aid from multiple sources, the SMCCCD Study Abroad program coordinator told students and parents in an information session held last Tuesday at Skyline College. The costs of the various programs are substantial, but Coordinator Stephanie Wells assures students that it is attainable if they are diligent and utilize the resources provided.

“I have worked with students who got $4,000 from a Gilman scholarship, $2,000 from our Study Abroad scholarship, and then they were able to use financial aid to get $3,000,” Wells said.

Wells urged students to drop by the Study Abroad office (located in Building 2, Room 2-352) if they are even thinking about the possibility of traveling the world for college credit. Their advisors will show students what they are eligible for, help with essays and can even speak to parents if they are unsure.

Community college students pay significantly less than students at four-year institutions to go abroad due to the differences in tuition. Three months in Florence would cost roughly $22,000 at a University of California school versus $12,000 for a SMCCD semester.

Professor Jessica Marshall studied abroad in Florence, Italy when she was a community college student before she began teaching anthropology at Cañada College.

“It was just about getting out of the zip code,” Marshall said.

Her experience abroad was a gateway to a life of travel and she has explored over 100 countries since then. She has a passion for culture that is contagious and will teach students anthropology in Florence 2020.

Going abroad is an opportunity to view the world through a different lens. Navigating a foreign culture teaches so much more than any textbook can. Humans operate differently throughout the world and there are many things that can only be learned through experience. Traveling gives us an opportunity to compile skills from different places and become a more well-rounded member of society.

Skyline students Javier Villalvazo and Lucas Ortega plan to room together for a semester abroad in Barcelona this Fall. They both have relatives that came from Spain and Villalvazo explains that it is the perfect opportunity to explore his family’s roots while simultaneously collecting college credits. When asked if they were worried about collecting the funds, Villalvazo replied,

“Initially, but it was never really something that was going to stop me from wanting to do this. We knew from the get-go that it wasn’t going to be the cheapest plans but we also just heard from the presentation how many different options there are, and I really want to make it happen so I don’t think I will let the price hold me back.”

Scholarship deadlines are approaching fast, so bring your current financial plan to Building 2, Room 2-352, and see what the world has to offer.

Specific programs and costs can be found on