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General Program Information

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.

The Gap Year Association is a non-profit accreditation and standards-setting organization recognized by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. CIEE's GYA accreditation is our promise to you that we provide an ethical, organized, inclusive, and fully immersive experience that will help you excel in college and beyond.

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.

No. CIEE Gap Year programs are all direct enrollment programs where students apply directly on this site. Therefore, CIEE can assure families that we do not pay commission to any referral source. Please feel free to contact CIEE directly at

We encourage all participants to thoroughly read through CIEE’s Terms & Conditions and the correlation program rules in advance of submitting an application.

All our participants are excited to travel and curious about the world. That’s one of the best parts of being on a CIEE program: You not only learn from your host community, you also learn from fellow participants who share these interests. We are proud that our participants come from all over the United States and bring the unique perspectives created by their cultural backgrounds and personal identities to group activities. That’s why CIEE works to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for participants of every race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, and military status.


In addition to the eligibility requirements outlined on the program page, please refer to our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Every participant comes onboard with a unique set of questions: Will I be able to stick to my special diet while abroad? Will my host family be accepting of me being gay?... etc.

The application process will give you countless opportunities to raise those questions. We strongly encourage you be forthcoming early in the process, so we can answer your questions and ensure we can make appropriate arrangements to best support you while on the program. With that in mind, think about anything you feel could bear an impact on your experience abroad – whether medical, emotional, academic, or personal – and don’t hesitate to share with us. We treat application details with the utmost care and will only share relevant information with appropriate staff on a “need to know” basis.


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.

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.

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.

First, students should all understand the visa considerations for staying in a host country or region beyond the conclusion of the CIEE program. It would be the student’s responsibility to ensure they are abiding by local laws as to whether or not they are legally permitted to remain in the host city or country after the program concludes. In any case where a student travels without a visa, he or she must not plan to be in the host city or country for more than 90 days. The team at CIEE can help advise students to ensure all make legal decisions.
In the case that a student is able to legally continue in the host city or country, CIEE does require that a Program Release Form be signed alleviating CIEE of responsibility for the individual. Please click here for the Program Release Form to view all specific terms. CIEE programs year-round and we advise students that decide to stay on program that CIEE is not in a position to support or provide any resources for the added time the student spends in the host city or country.

Health, Safety, & Security

For information and updates on how CIEE programs are adapting to the coronavirus (COVID-19), please check out

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.

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.


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.

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.

We generally discourage regular communication with your friends and family back home to preserve the immersive nature of our programs. We suggest not exceeding one call per week. You may need to remind some of your family members and home friends that you need to establish your independence and self-reliance as your program begins.  

We also strongly discourage family visits during your program. In our experience, family visits can disrupt a participant's language learning and integration into the host community. If your family feels strongly about visiting, they should do so at the end of your program. Please contact CIEE if your family is considering planning a visit ( so that we can discuss necessary paperwork, permissions, and supervision plans.

College Deferral & Credits

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.

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.

CIEE understands the importance of documentation. Whether or not a university accepts credit for the participant’s CIEE Gap Year Abroad program, end of program documentation will be provided to reflect learning outcomes and participation. Specific documentation varies depending on the type of Gap Year Abroad program. In addition to a general certificate of completion, participants can expect the following:

  • For Language & Culture programs participants will receive an end of program certificate outlining total course hours, correlating grades and instructor comments if available.
  • For Global Internship programs participants will receive an end of program certificate that outlines internship hours and feedback from the internship supervisor. Additionally, participants are able to receive a letter of recommendation, upon successful completion of the program, from either CIEE or the internship supervisor.

Our pre-departure courses will help you get ready for your trip and cover most frequently asked questions about your final destination. We typically cover key topics that help you get in the right frame of mind and make the best choices when considering packing (e.g., cultural norms for clothing) and making travel arrangements (e.g., visa requirements). The course is designed to help you connect with CIEE and your fellow participants, learn how to transition into everyday life in your host culture, prepare for the academic parts of your program, and learn all the logistical information you need to be ready to go. We also encourage all our participants to be curious about their future host countries and start researching them online as soon as they’re confirmed! P.S. Have you read our blogs? They can be a mine of information and a great way to start projecting into your future experience.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

  • $50: Nonrefundable application fee after submitting application
  • $500:  Nonrefundable deposit 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).

Costs & Fees

$50 Application Fee: Due upon submittal of application and nonrefundable

$1,000 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):

  • For Spring 2023 Programs: Full tuition is due 30 days from your first statement being issued or 30 days prior to your departure date (whichever date comes first).
  • For Fall 2023 Programs and on: Full tuition is due 30 days from your first statement being issued or 45 days prior to your departure date (whichever date comes first).

$25.00: Applied for a returned check

  • 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 (if arriving within the arrival window)
  • 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

Participants can expect to pay fees associated with visa costs, spending money, and roundtrip airfare. These fees vary depending on the program location, however, in general students can expect the following range of costs:

  • Airfare (depends on destination with an estimated range of $600 - $1,500)
  • Visa Fees ($10 - $150)
  • Cell Phone ($30 per month)
  • Public Transportation ($30 - $80 per month)
  • General Spending ($150 - $300 per month)

We offer discounts to a few select groups of students. If you're eligible to more than one of the following discounts, choose the one that will be the most beneficial and will offer largest discount.

Alumni Discount: 
If you or one of your direct family members (mother, father, brother, sister) completed a CIEE program in the past, you are eligible for a $1,500 discount.

Priority Deadline Discount:
If you apply by the early application deadline of your program, you are eligible for $400 off your Gap program fee.

Referral discount:
If you are a past participant, you can earn a $200 cash reward for every friend that you refer and travels on a CIEE program. Your friend also earns a $200 discount toward the program when they travel! To learn more, visit our Refer-A-Friend Alumni Rewards page.

Sibling discount:
If you and your sibling want to participate on a program during the same semester or academic year, one sibling will be eligible for a $1,500 discount.

USA Hosting discount:
If your family has hosted in the past—or is currently hosting—a CIEE High School USA student, you are eligible for a $1,000 discount toward any CIEE program.

If you have any further questions on discounts, contact us.

Generally speaking, these types of tuition savings plans are only allowed to distribute funds for eligible tuition costs billed by institutions with a US Department of Education (DOE) school code. Since CIEE is not eligible to apply for a DOE school code, you will likely be unable to use your tuition savings plan funds to pay for your program balance.

However, the rules for each fund do vary from one sponsoring state/agency to another. We encourage you to talk to the savings fund agency to determine whether they will release the funds directly to you to pay your fees to CIEE. Please note CIEE cannot make these determinations for you, nor advise on that matter or coordinate with your financial advisor. We also cannot customize billing statements to show itemized program costs.

No. Thank you for your interest in CIEE and supporting CIEE students. Per IRS rules, tuition and program fees for a specific student is not tax-deductible and cannot be made as a charitable contribution to CIEE. However, we do accept payments to program fee balances directly. You may send a payment to CIEE, 600 Southborough Drive, Suite 104, South Portland, Maine 04106 Attn: Accounts Receivable. Please indicate the name of the student the payment is for and the payment will be credited to their account and an updated invoice sent to the student and family.

For further information on what is eligible as a tax-deductible donation, please visit the IRS website and reference Publication 526.

We would be grateful for your support. As a nonprofit, CIEE accepts charitable contributions for scholarships that are made available to all students following the guidelines of CIEE’s scholarship distribution process.