Some Loyola students said they felt blindsided by unaccounted for costs at The John Felice Rome Center (JFRC).
On the JFRC website, Loyola administrators depict a semester in Rome as not just a great learning experience but one that may cost less than spending a term in Chicago.
But, a review by The Phoenix found the overall cost for a semester in Rome is now just as expensive — if not more — than staying in Chicago.
The JFRC — founded in 1962 — is a Loyola campus that offers undergraduate classes in Rome for students and partner schools, such as Fordham University and Santa Clara University. The JFRC is one of the oldest and largest U.S. study abroad programs in Europe, according to program director Michael Andrews, Ph.D.
Paula De Voto, a coordinator for the JFRC at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, said there have been periods throughout the history of the JRFC when the tuition has varied from tuition in Chicago.
Most recently, Loyola’s Board of Trustees reviewed the tuition pricing and decided because the JFRC is a Loyola campus the cost should match the $22,065 tuition at Chicago campuses, De Voto said.
“You are getting the same tuition rate as the home campuses because you are getting the same credit and the same quality Loyola education,” Andrews said.
Studying in Rome currently costs about $29,041 per semester — this covers tuition, room and board, a study abroad fee, a technology fee, a residence permit fee, a security app and an international student health insurance fee, but it’s unclear if the health insurance is mandatory — according to the Office of the Bursar website, the department that handles financial information at Loyola.
Tuition at Loyola’s Chicago campuses is about $27,427 per semester — which covers tuition, room and board, a student development fee, a technology fee and a fee for public transit use — according to the Office of the Bursar website.
De Voto said increases in tuition, effective for the 2019-2020 academic year, are being used to provide better accommodations at the JFRC.
A second residence hall is being built on campus and the JFRC expects to renovate the old residence hall in the near future, De Voto said. Tuition revenue is being used to pay for these projects.
De Voto said studying in Rome was originally marketed as more affordable than a semester in Chicago in efforts to recruit more students to fill the campus. Now with enrollment numbers hovering around 230, the tuition price has been reconsidered with gaining popularity of the program.
Loyola isn’t marketing the program as cheaper anymore, De Voto said.
However, as of publication, Loyola’s website still says a semester at the JFRC may “actually cost less than staying at campus here in Chicago,” with a payment plan, scholarships and discounts.
When asked about the website, De Voto said the cheaper cost may not be applicable to Loyola students but may be applicable to students studying in Rome from other institutions.
“The website is geared not only toward Loyola students but also for students from other institutions so it may be cheaper for those students,” De Voto said.
Claire Passinault, a Loyola junior studying advertising and public relations, said she studied abroad in Rome last spring and would tell students studying at JFRC in the future to count on it being more expensive due to unaccounted for costs that add up.
However, De Voto said the school spends a large amount of time on budgeting at the pre-departure orientation.
“We don’t go over mandatory costs like tuition and room and board because all of those are posted,” De Voto said. “We do go over expenses in how much you should take with you and what costs you may incur.”
Passinault said one additional cost was a 30-minute cab ride to and from the airport. She said she was charged extra for her luggage.
“I think they could’ve spent at least an hour talking about budgeting during pre-orientation and I don’t think they did at all,” Passinault said. “That could have been something they spent more time on.”
Andrews said he was unaware of any hidden costs and students need to do their homework before they go.
“[Preparing students for all costs] is what we try to do, but I would encourage students to ask those who have already been there,” Andrews said.
Judd Pappalon, a senior biology student, said he felt the school should have been more specific when it came to talking about costs.
“In the information sessions, we asked how much money we should have for spending and they never gave us a direct answer,” the 21-year-old said. “It was all just really vague so I was never sure how much money I should’ve had.”
Andrews said a lower tuition would be ideal, but thinks it’s important to remember the JFRC is a fully functioning Loyola campus.
“The cost of tuition of education is skyrocketing everywhere,” Andrews said, “If we are able to lower tuition and still give the quality and experience of a Loyola education, we would do it.”