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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 skills that you might possess, a language immersion program will surround you with a foreign language. You will use that language for everything, from discussing literature to finding the restroom. By fully committing to a language immersion program, you may be tired at the end of the day — but by the end of the program, you will be much more proficient than when you started.

Please check the eligibility requirements listed on the program page for the country where you would like to go.

CIEE is here to help you.  If you have questions about the program or the application process, please email  


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.

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.


Generally, homestay placements are announced 2-4 weeks before program arrival. You and your family will have a chance to see your homestay's informational sheet and to communicate with them by phone or email prior to departure. The exact date of this placement is impossible to predict, because so many factors go into making a good placement. If you have been accepted into a program, you will have a homestay placement in time to obtain a visa and travel.

This depends upon the country where the student would like to study.  In some countries, students are able to select their preferred region.  CIEE will do their best to accommodate the request however, it can not be guaranteed. Contact CIEE for more information. 


Many of the college entrance exams that are given in the United States are available abroad at designated test centers. Please visit the College Board website for information on taking these exams overseas and to find exam locations and dates. Please be aware that CIEE will not schedule these exams for you and that the SAT/AP exam test centers may not be in your host town/city. Transportation and accommodation for testing are the responsibility of the participant. It is important to inform your Local Coordinator well in advance, since it may take some time to arrange travel permission.

Foreign grading systems are quite different, so evaluating them on the American grading scale is often difficult. The student’s GPA should not be affected by the courses taken abroad; however, the ultimate decision is up to the student’s home school in the United States. It is important that you involve your U.S. high school early in the pre-departure process, as credit and grade transfer vary with every school. You can find more information about academics here

Health, Safety, & Security

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

US residents are covered by iNext international travel insurance, in addition to any coverage provided by their primary insurance provider. If your permanent address is not in the US, then you will need to provide your own insurance. 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 also purchases students a supplemental policy that covers evacuation from the host country, in case it is required as a result of political unrest or natural disaster. All costs associated with purchasing iNext insurance are included as part of the program price.

CIEE has a designated Health, Safety, and Security Team that is devoted to ensuring your child is safe, by actively monitoring world events in relation to CIEE program sites. 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 Local Coordinator is your first source of assistance locally, the Support Team is always available as a resource for participants and parents. Support Team members are trained and experienced in managing conflict, assisting with cultural adjustment issues, and providing support for emergency situations. Our staff is knowledgeable and experienced, and will be 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.

CIEE offers a multilayered support network, available to both students and parents during the program. This network includes:

  • Host family, who is thoroughly vetted and trained by in-country staff
  • Local Coordinator, who lives in the same area as the student and provides support and supervision throughout the experience
  • CIEE Support Team, based at CIEE headquarters in Portland, Maine, whose members are available 24/7 and trained in assisting students and parents throughout the transitions and challenges of studying abroad

Our pre-departure course 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.


If you already have a passport, make sure that it will be valid for six months after your program ends. If you need a new passport or need to renew your existing one, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

A visa is a stamp or document placed in your passport that allows you to enter and live temporarily in your host country. It’s required for most year and semester programs. It is your responsibility to obtain your visa, but we’ll help you through the process. CIEE will confirm with you whether or not you need a visa for your program. Visa fees are not included in CIEE tuition. 

CIEE recommends that participants travel with a debit card to access cash, and a credit card to use in case of an emergency. All participants should check with their bank to see what the bank’s policy is in regard to withdrawing funds and using bank-issued debit/credit cards abroad. In many countries, the preferred means of payment is still cash, so having access to cash is very important. We discourage participants from using either traveler’s checks or personal checks while abroad.  CIEE will provide more specific, detailed information on accessing money for the country in which you will be studying, during the pre-departure orientation.

Yes, students are allowed to travel while on some programs, but there are restrictions and every program country has different rules. For example, high school study abroad students are not allowed to travel independently unless they have a chaperone who is 25 years of age or older.  Some programs do allow a limited amount of approved independent travel as outlined in our program-specific independent travel policies. Please keep in mind that even if a program allows it, you must have a travel release form signed by your Local Coordinator, parents or guardians, and CIEE. Additionally, under no circumstances are students permitted to miss school to travel.

CIEE’s High School Abroad programs in Spain, Chile, France and Germany include day excursions.  Many countries also offer optional, overnight excursions for an additional fee.


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

CIEE communicates very important information by way of email, including visa information, host family details, pre-departure orientation information, 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 anytime. 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 who are enthusiastic about talking to prospective students and their families. Request to talk to a former participant by emailing

Costs & Fees

$50 application fee: due upon submittal of application and non-refundable

$1000 acceptance deposit: due within 10 days of acceptance and non-refundable.

Failure to submit program fee deposit on time may result in delayed departure or cancellation.

Program fee balance (amount varies for each program):

Fall departures: March 1 or within 30 days of paying the acceptance deposit (whichever comes 2nd)
Spring departures: September 1 or within 30 days of paying the acceptance deposit (whichever comes 2nd)

  • International airfare between US departure city (determined by CIEE) and program destination
  • Transportation to and from airport in-country
  • Placement in a local high school
  • Careful selection and screening of a compatible host family
  • Room and board with selected host family
  • Supervision and support of a local coordinator
  • Online pre-departure orientation
  • In-country orientations for some locations
  • International medical insurance through iNext
  • 24-hour worldwide travel assistance and support
  • Visa support and pre-departure assistance
  • CIEE led educational trips and excursions (France, Spain, Germany, Japan programs)
  • In-person support from in-country staff
  • 24/7 support available to students and parents from CIEE headquarters staff
  • Letter of Recommendation upon request and successful completion of program
  • Access to CIEE Alumni network
  • Grade report documenting courses and evaluations in-country
  • Food, transportation and activities outside of what is provided by CIEE
  • Personal expenses such as cell phone, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.
  • Books, school fees and uniforms if required
  • Extra or overweight baggage fees, if necessary
  • Lunch at school cafeteria
  • Extra language tutoring
  • Passport and visa fees
  • Souvenirs
  • Medical costs in the case of illness or minor injury, since the iNext insurance plan included in CIEE tuition requires that the student pay for any medical bills upfront and then submit the receipt for reimbursement
  • Any changes made to the original flight itinerary purchased by CIEE as part of the program fee

Other Applicable Fees

$25.00: applied for a returned check

Location Preference Option: additional cost, not included in program fee, dependent on location (may include a relocation fee)

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 High School Abroad (semester or academic year) 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. 


There are no scholarships available for High School Semester or Gap Year Abroad programs.

CIEE does offer scholarships for High School Summer Abroad programs.

Cancellation & Refund Policy

$50 application fee: due upon submittal of application and non-refundable

$1000 acceptance deposit: non-refundable after payment (due 10 days after acceptance)

Half of the Program Fee (amount varies for each program): non-refundable within 60 days of departure

Entire Program Fee (amount varies for each program): non-refundable within 30 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.