Internships are one of the Elon experiences, and many students are required to complete one before they graduate. But because internships are often unpaid, students can't always afford a summer of rent, according to Pam Brumbaugh, the director of experiential education.

"I'm most concerned about the summertime, because that is when folks are out earning school money," she said. "It's a hardship to have an unpaid internship and then have to pay for housing, and then have to pay for credit."

More than half of the 1200 internships completed last year took place over the summer, 60 percent of which were unpaid, according to Brumbaugh.

Students in Elon's Law School also complete summer internships, but have the opportunity to apply for stipends to help pay for their summer of rent. This is an option worth considering for undergraduate programs, Brumbaugh said.

The stipends are given out through two organizations: the Public Interest Law Society (PILS) a program that serves the law school and the community through volunteer work and fundraising, and the law school's Leadership Fellows program.

The money given out through the Public Interest Law Society is raised at an annual fundraiser, a tradition that was started four years ago. Last year, between $1500 and $2000 was raised through a tennis tournament organized by PILS. This year, the fundraiser will be a basketball tournament held in February.

"Some of that money goes towards establishing an account where a stipend can be given every year from the interest," said Jason Senges, president of PILS. "I anticipate the basketball tournament will raise $2500, allowing us to give $500 or more to multiple students. The goal is to eventually have a larger fund."

A committee of professors decides which students will receive the stipends, basing their decision on the students' resume, application and the merit of what they will be doing over the summer. The program was developed because of the difficulty of finding a paid internship during law school.

"In between the first and second year of law school, it is very difficult to get a paid internship," Senges said. "It's even more difficult with the economy in the past couple of years. The stipend was developed in order to encourage students to seek out those positions in a summer where they can work without pay."

Students that are selected to be part of the law school's Leadership Fellows program receive scholarship money funded by the school, according to Philip Craft, director of communications at Elon's Law School.

"Students selected into the program have the opportunity to be placed in a public law internship over the summer, and the law school will give them a scholarship to assist with their living expenses," he said.

Senges is confident that Elon's undergraduate programs could benefit from providing students with stipends as well, and that fundraising is a viable option because of the size of the student body.

"One of the struggles that we have with raising the funds is that our student body is 368 students," he said. "So raising large amounts of money is difficult. Elon undergrads make up a large student body relative to the law school, so fundraising a few dollars from the majority of the students could go a long way."

Nagatha Tonkins, director of Internships and External Relations at the School of Communications, has inquired about stipends and scholarships. But she also recognizes that a paid internship is not out of the question.

"When students express an interest in paid internships, I help them find foundations and organizations which provide funding," Tonkins said. "I also refer students to Student Planning to learn more about financial aid."

But donors are warming to the idea of helping out with internship costs, and Elon's Career Center has talked about the possibility of providing internship scholarships for years, according to Brumbaugh.

"I certainly support the idea as a good thing for the Elon Advancement office to investigate," she said. "It's a great idea, and we surely need it."