Transferring Classes and Financial Aid
If you intend to study abroad at Rikkyo and want to get credits for it, make sure you work closely with your university to make sure all of your classes will transfer back to your home university. Depending on the type of exchange you do and your home university, the number of classes and which classes you take may affect your financial aid and planned graduation date.
At my university, I was required to fill out a form that showed which classes I intended to take at Rikkyo and how they would transfer back to my school. I then had to go around to all the different departments and get the department head’s signature, acknowledging that they would accept the transfer. For example, if I wanted my classes at Rikkyo to count as Japanese and History classes at my home university, I had to have the head of the Japanese Department and the head of the History Department at my home university sign my form.
Unfortunately, filling out this form was not as simple as I’d hoped it would be. At my university, the average class is three credit hours (as I believe it is with most US universities). However, at Rikkyo the average class is two credit hours. The question then arose, how should these credits transfer? The general answer was, the total number of credits need to even out. Therefore, taking three classes (2 credits each) at Rikkyo would transfer back as two classes (3 credits each) for my University.
The other thing I had to keep in mind was that I had to be a full time student by my university’s standard. I had to make sure that when I added up the hours for all the classes I would be transferring, I would still have twelve credit hours. Basically, I would have to take 6 classes at Rikkyo (at 2 credits each for a total of 12 hours) to transfer back as 4 classes (at 3 credits each for a total of 12 hours). If I didn’t meet my university’s requirements to be considered full time, I would lose my funding. I also had to make sure I would be getting credit for the required classes for my Japanese minor and that I would still be on track for graduation.
Long story short, make sure your classes transfer the way you want and you don’t end up screwing yourself.
As for funding, I’m incredibly lucky. Because of the contract my university has with Rikkyo, I have to pay my university’s tuition, not Rikkyo’s. When I entered college, I received a few scholarships for my good grades that I can apply to my semester at Rikkyo as if it were any other semester. I also fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that will provide me with some financial aid.
However, something to keep in mind about finacial aid…For all schools, not just my university, your financial aid is disbursed no sooner than 10 days before the start of your classes. For most US university’s you receive the bill for your spring semester sometime in December, and then its due in January or February. However, classes don’t start in Japan until early April, meaning you won’t receive your financial aid until end of March (even though classes for the rest of the students started back in January). Make sure all the appropriate administrative offices know that you are studying abroad so you don’t accrue any late fees for your bill. My university puts a hold on the bill until the financial aid is disbursed, but its always a good idea to stay in contact with the administrative offices just to make sure everything is in order.