FAQs for Parents of Students Planning to Study Abroad
Your student may be considering study abroad or already approved for their program. This page contains answers to frequently asked questions about study abroad at UWF.
Funding Study Abroad
UWF maintains a list of suggested scholarships for study abroad and tips for scholarship applications as well as ways to save money for study abroad.Funding Study Abroad
Health and Safety Abroad
UWF Study Abroad requires students to have specific insurance for health and travel while abroad. Find out more about this coverage and safety information for study abroad.Health and Safety Abroad
How much will Study Abroad cost?
- Cost of each study abroad program varies. The length and location of the program, time of travel, and housing choice can affect the overall costs for a student’s study abroad program. Short-term programs are often a less expensive alternative to spending a semester or year abroad. For more detailed information about the average cost of a semester abroad, check out the Estimated Costs found in the listing for each program at uwf.abroadoffice.net.
Can students use their financial aid for study abroad?
- Financial aid received during a student’s regular study on the UWF campus is available to them for their study abroad program. There are a few things to keep in mind.
- If a student is receiving credit from UWF or transfer credit from another institution, Federal Aid (grants and loans received as a result of completion of the FAFSA) is useable for their study abroad program.
- If a student is paying their tuition to UWF or to another Florida public university or college, Bright Futures and Florida Prepaid are useable for their study abroad program.
- Scholarships granted by UWF to the student may be available for study abroad.
- Students are required to discuss their intention to participate in study abroad with the Financial Aid office as part of their pre-departure tasks for study abroad.
Will all grades/credits be accepted by the home university?
- For full details about course, credits, and grades, please go to the Courses, Grades, and Credits.
How long is a study abroad program?
- Students who participate in International Exchange are on-site at their host university for a single semester or one academic year. Single-semester students are typically out of the US for five to six months depending on the academic calendar of the host university. Year-abroad students leave in late August or September and return to the US in June or July of the next year, a period of about ten months.
- There are shorter-term programs available in the summer months where students will be abroad from ten days to two months. These include faculty-led opportunities where students travel with a UWF professor and/or staff for study outside the U.S.
Why is study abroad insurance necessary?
- During an international educational experience or exchange program, the student may need to see a doctor, have a prescription filled, and receive medical care at a hospital, or deal with an unexpected medical emergency. The University of West Florida requires all students participating in an education abroad experience to hold international medical and travel insurance coverage. This includes emergency medical evacuation, accidental death, and repatriation of remains coverage that is typically not included in health insurance plans. Please go to Health and Accident Insurance to learn more about insurance requirements.
How much spending money is needed?
- Cost of living in each country is different. The US Dollar Exchange Rate also has an effect on the amount of funds a student needs. For additional details about cost by location, see the Program Costs for each program location.
- For semester students, $1000 could be enough for spending money outside of their other regular expenses (tuition, food, housing, etc). However, in some locations, students would need more funding for food and other expenses if the cost of living is high.
Where can the student exchange money?
- Students should always use authorized exchange agents for currency exchange. Some banks offer currency exchange services to their members that allow you to order currency ahead of time. XE.com is one of the most accurate exchange rate sources available. The site provides an up-to-date exchange rate calculator for over 180 of the world’s currencies. It also provides a currency exchange service. Currency exchange is also available in international airports in the U.S. and abroad. In many countries, students may be able to use an ATM machine to withdraw money.
What are the housing options?
- Housing options vary by location. Some locations have campus housing much like UWF. Other schools may have only apartment-style options. Some locations may offer home-stay or roommate matching services to students. To find out the housing options for a specific location, check out the program/location information.
- Students who arrive before their exchange housing is available are provided information about local hotels or hostels open to students until the accommodations become available. This information is provided by the host institution or program after the student has been accepted for the study program by the host school or program.
- Students pay for their housing in the host country for most programs. Some short-term programs have housing fees included in the program fee paid before departure.
Who is responsible for making travel arrangements?
- Students make their own travel arrangements for individual study abroad and exchange. Group programs may have travel arranged for them so they can travel together to and from the site. Cost of international airfare is the responsibility of the student. The Study Abroad Office is able to assist with some travel arrangement questions and concerns. UWF recommends the STA Travel Airfare Deposit Program to students.
What are the common means of transportation while abroad?
- In many countries, trains or subways are popular options. Students may purchase a train pass if they will be using the rail for regular or daily travel. Bus or tram service is typically available in cities and operates on a reliable schedule in most locations.
- In other countries, taxis or mopeds may be the cheapest and most direct choice. Wherever the student goes, it is a good idea to know the local taxi fares and to negotiate a fair deal prior to departing. Also, make sure the student is informed about local driving laws for car and moped rentals and check to see if his/her current car insurance will cover international rentals.
What documents are needed to travel abroad?
- As of June 1, 2009, all U.S. citizens traveling outside of the U.S. will need a valid passport. This includes travel by land and sea. Some countries require passports be valid for the length of stay plus three additional months after the expected end of study. Students should verify the validity of their passports before visa application. For more information about passports and regulations for U.S. citizens planning travel outside the U.S., please visit the State Department Travel website.
- Each country has its own entry regulations and requirements for entry. Most students studying for semester or year will need to apply for a student visa to enter their host country. Up-to-date visa information can be found on the website of the embassy or consulate for each country located within the U.S.
- In addition or in place of a visa, some countries require application for a residency permit. Some countries may require registration with the local immigration board. This is typically completed by all students during their on-site orientation.
What is needed for identification abroad?
Students on semester or year exchange programs can secure their passport in their accommodation and use their student ID from the host institution as well as other documents that may be provided when they register with the local immigration office, such as a temporary residency card. For everyday identification, students are encouraged to carry the following information along with a copy of their passport:
- The name and contact of their host school exchange student coordinator
- Student’s host accommodation address
- Copy of visa and/or residency permit (if applicable)
- International Student ID card and/or host institution student ID
- UWF contact information.
- Failure to provide proof of a student’s identity, purpose and approval of stay, and local address can result in students being detained while police contact the host institution to verify the information.
Will the student be able to communicate without having a firm grasp of the language?
- In most exchange and study abroad locations, courses are taught in English. A basic command of the language is helpful but not necessary in all locations. In the locations that do not offer courses taught in English, students may be required to submit language test or proficiency information in order to be accepted for a program. Students whose first language is one other than English will be required to submit TOEFL or other English proficiency proof before they will be accepted by the host institution offering courses taught in English.
- For more information about language requirements, please see the program details for locations of interest.
Will the students be able to work while in study abroad?
- Unless the students are involved in an approved internship or work-related experience while in study abroad, employment should not be a consideration. However, students may be presented an opportunity to work in the host country. The Study Abroad Office advises students to always be mindful of the laws of their host country. It is important that they consult with the host institution whether employment is legal and available for exchange students. If students violate the rules of the country and run into legal trouble, the students will need to take responsibility for their actions. For information on the services provided by US Consulates in case of arrest and detention, please go to Arrest or Detention of an American Citizen Abroad.
What will the food be like?
- Students are typically pleased with the types of food available in each location. Common items from the location country can be found in shops or restaurants. Students who participate in programs with cafeteria access are provided a variety of meals throughout their term abroad. Students living in apartments with shared kitchens have access to nearby groceries and can shop for fresh food one to three times per week. Apartment living is preferred by some students as they have the freedom to cook for themselves.
- As for the familiar sites, such as the “golden arches,” students are able to find some familiar chain restaurants in their host country. These usually serve an alternative menu that includes items from the U.S. and local specialties. Students are encouraged to try local favorites as part of the cultural experience.
- UWF Study Abroad recommends students consider if they want to carry some non-perishable food items with them when they travel abroad. US students often miss macaroni and cheese and peanut butter.
How can we keep in touch with the student while they are abroad?
- Students are required to stay in touch with the Study Abroad Office during their term abroad. They must provide their host address within one week of arriving on location. Students often know their assignment location but must wait until arrival to receive their room number and key.
- Students must also maintain contact regarding any changes to their registration during their term abroad. Students and parents can contact the Study Abroad Office by email at email@example.com, by phone at 850-474-2479 or by Skype at uwfstudyabroad. Students can also contact the UWF Study Abroad Office by visiting their exchange coordinator at their host school or program.
- While the Study Abroad Office is unable to release any academic information about a student’s program without prior approval from the student, we can verify if a student has arrived to their location.
- Family and friends can stay in touch with students through a variety of resources: Students can set up a local US Google Voice number with their UWF student email to call home through their computer. Facebook messaging is a great way to chat while the student is abroad, as are Skype and other instant messaging services. Using a land line or cell phone to communicate while abroad may be very expensive, the internet-based options are more cost effective and offer opportunities for video calls.
- If you are unable to reach your student or have need to reach the student due to an emergency at home, Family in the US may call the Overseas Citizens Services Number at 1-888-407-4747. Students should register their trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program before departure to make it easier for US officials to contact them while abroad. When families call the Overseas Citizens Services number, a US Consular employee attempts to locate the student and relay the message.
Can I contact UWF for information about the student while they are abroad?
- If the student wishes to have information about their program, registration, health or financial matters discussed with a parent or other contact in the US, the student must submit the FERPA Form - Authorization to Release Information to the UWF Registrar’s Office prior to departure. Without the form, information regarding the student cannot be released.