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Frequently Asked Questions

If your question doesn’t appear below, call our helpful team at 1-800-40-STUDY, or send us an email at hsabroad@ciee.org. We’re happy to help!

1. Can I request to live in a specific area in the city I wish to study abroad in?

The best practice is to allow the CIEE Study Center to find a family that is looking for a student that matches your profile. While many CIEE host families have welcomed students in the past, others are hosting for the first time. The family home stay is at the heart of any exchange, so finding the right family is our first priority and should be yours. It is important all participants go into any gap year program with an open mind about what their family may be like, where they live, whether or not they have children, etc.

2. How do I obtain a passport and visa?

If you already have a passport, make sure that it will not expire prior to your return date. Usually your passport must be valid for six months after your program ends. If you need a new passport or need to renew your existing one, you can apply at your local post office. Please allow six to eight weeks for processing. There is more information on passports at the U.S. State Department website.

Visas are permits to spend more than three months in a country and are specific to each country. While CIEE will direct you to the website of the closest consulate of the country you are traveling to, we cannot obtain the visa for you. We will provide you with necessary documentation including: proof of program acceptance, confirmation of international health/accident insurance, and proof of financial means during your stay. All other documentation required by the consulate is your responsibility. Please note that depending on consulate policies you may have to turn in your passport when applying for a visa and you will not be able to travel until the passport has been returned to you with the visa inside.

Visa requirements change frequently. CIEE is willing and able to provide guidance throughout the visa process but please remember that it is your responsibility to fully understand what is required and to provide the consulate with all requested documents in a timely manner.

3. How often should I expect to hear from CIEE?

Plan to log in to your CIEE account regularly as you prepare for your departure. Important information and resources are there for your use. Watch for regular communication via email in the four months preceding your departure. Closer to the departure date, the communication is very frequent.

When filling out an application it is vital that you enter email addresses for yourself and your parents or guardians. CIEE communicates very important information by way of email, including: visa information, host family details, pre-departure orientation dates, etc. If you apply up to a year before departure, there may be some lapses before regular communication is again established. Don’t worry! You can contact CIEE by phone or email any time. We hope that your CIEE account will answer most of your concerns, and we will continually update it with new information.

4. Will my college allow me to defer my admission to take a gap year?

Most colleges are amenable to deferring admission for students taking a gap year abroad. A number of highly selective colleges actually recommend that students consider a year off before starting classes as a means to mature emotionally and intellectually. Please check with your college of choice for their policies regarding deferment of admission.

5. I’m interested in travel. Will I be able to travel during my CIEE Gap Year Abroad?

Backpacking through a country may be enticing if you are only interested in tourism. But to understand a community you must spend time in it. Living and working alongside the people in your host country will maximize the richness of your international experience. CIEE's gap year opportunities, including gap year volunteer work, provide the chance to get to know a country and its people in a way that is extremely unique, and challenges you in a way that is otherwise difficult to come by. You will have opportunities to travel during breaks, holidays and weekends, but remember you are required to attend all classes and program activities, so plan accordingly.

6. Can I speak to former participants and their parents?

CIEE maintains a list of alumni students and families that are enthusiastic about talking to potential students and their families. Request to talk to a former participant by email or visit our current and prospective students on Facebook.

7. Will I be covered by insurance while participating on a CIEE Gap Year Program?

All students are covered by iNext international travel insurance in addition to any coverage provided by their primary insurance provider. The iNext policy covers any unforeseen or unexpected accidents or illnesses while abroad. If students require medical attention, they will often have to pay up-front for any costs and then contact the iNext Department at CIEE for instructions on how to submit a claim.

8. What is a language immersion program?

Have you ever heard someone say “I can understand Spanish fine, I just can't speak it?” A language immersion program is usually designed to ensure that you can both understand and speak a foreign language. By forcing you to use whatever level of foreign language skill that you might possess—even if it’s only one word—a language immersion program will significantly improve your ability to communicate. You will use that language for everything, from discussing literature to finding the restroom. Fully committing to a language immersion program can be exhausting, but the resulting language proficiency you’ll achieve is well worth it.

9. Will I receive college credit for my gap year?

CIEE does not issue credit to gap year participants. All students receive a school report outlining classes taken, class hours and grades. It is up to the university or college where a student is enrolling to decide whether or not they will issue credit for courses taken abroad.

10. Will I be traveling from the United States with other program participants?

Participants are responsible for purchasing their flights to and from the city where they will be participating in their gap year. If students are looking to travel with others participating in the same program, CIEE is be happy to help students connect so they can organize their international itineraries together.

11. How will I ensure that my child is safe overseas? What if I have a specific concern?

CIEE is dedicated to providing all participants and parents with comprehensive support throughout the duration of the program. CIEE’s Support Team maintains close communication with the overseas receiving organization and regularly receives updates on student adjustment throughout the year. While the on-site program staff is the first source of assistance locally, the CIEE Support Team is always available as a resource for participants and parents. The Support Team is trained and experienced in managing conflict, assisting with cultural adjustment issues, and providing support for emergency situations. Our staff is knowledgeable, experienced, and more than happy to answer questions, provide assistance, or discuss student concerns. The CIEE Support Team is available 24/7 via phone and is also available by email or Skype.

12. When are program fees due?

  • $50 Application Fee: Due upon submittal of application and nonrefundable
  • $500 Acceptance Deposit: Due within 10 days of acceptance and nonrefundable. Failure to submit the program fee deposit on time may result in delayed departure or cancellation.
  • Program Fee Balance (amount varies for each program): Due 30 days before the start of the program. For the cancellation and refund policy, see question 13. Failure to submit the program fee balance on time may result in cancellation.

13. What is the cancellation and refund policy?

  • $50: Nonrefundable application fee after submitting application
  • $500: Nonrefundable after acceptance to the program
  • Half of the Program Fee (amount varies for each program): Nonrefundable within 30 days of departure
  • Entire Program Fee (amount varies for each program): Nonrefundable within 15 days of departure
  • There will be no refund after the program departure date
  • If a program is cancelled by CIEE for any reason whatsoever (prior to participant departure), CIEE will refund 100% of program fees and deposit paid (less the $50 application fee)

14. Are there other applicable fees or discounts?

Other Applicable Fees

  • $25.00: Applied for a returned check

Application Discounts

  • $400: Apply up to a month before the deadline, and get $400 off your first program deposit
  • 10% of Program Fee: Available for all applicants who are alumni of a CIEE program or whose families have hosted a CIEE High School USA student

15. What is included in the program fee?

  • Careful selection and screening of a compatible host family
  • Room and board with selected host family
  • Supervision and support of local staff
  • Online orientation prior to leaving the U.S. and an orientation upon arrival in country
  • International medical insurance through iNext
  • 24-hour worldwide travel assistance and support
  • Visa support and pre-departure assistance
  • CIEE led educational trips and excursions. Excursions include transportation, meals, accommodations, and guided tours.
  • Airport greeting and transportation
  • In-person support and counseling from in-country staff
  • 24/7 support and counseling available to students and parents from CIEE headquarters staff
  • Letter of Recommendation upon request and successful completion of program
  • Certificate of completion – varies by program
  • Access to CIEE Alumni network

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