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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 a certain city or region in the country where I wish to stay abroad?

Host families are located throughout the host country. Most placements are in a smaller town, which provides a more enriching immersion experience, away from tourists. The best practice is to allow the overseas receiving organizations to find a family that is a good match for you. All families are thoroughly interviewed and vetted by local in-country staff. Every homestay looks different, but regardless of makeup or location, all placements are comprised of warm, gracious individuals who live in the host country and cannot wait to open up their home and culture to share with a CIEE student.

2. How do I get 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, 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, and CIEE will confirm with you whether or not you need a visa for your program.

3. How often should we 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 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.

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, predeparture 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 anytime. We hope that your CIEE account will answer most of your concerns, and we will continually update it with new information.

4. Is there any financial aid for programs?

CIEE has a limited number of merit-based partial scholarships for high school semester/academic year programs. The application for one of these scholarships must be turned in no later than the scholarship application deadline noted here.

5. When will we find out the host family information?

You and your family will have a chance to see your host family’s informational sheet and to communicate with the host family 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 host family placement in time to obtain a visa and travel.

6. How will my son/daughter access money while abroad?

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.

7. Will I be covered by insurance while participating in a CIEE High School Abroad program?

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 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.

8. Can I take the SAT and/or AP exam while abroad?

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.

9. Will the grades I receive abroad affect my high school grade point average?

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 throughout the pre-departure process, as credit and grade transferring vary with every school. Please see the “School Credit” section for more information.

10. I’m interested in travel. Will I be able to travel during my CIEE High School 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 studying alongside the people in your host country will maximize the richness of your international experience. CIEE’s High School Abroad program provides the chance to get to know a country, its people, and its challenges in a way that is otherwise difficult to come by. However, some programs do allow independent travel. 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.

11. 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 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.

12. Can I speak with a past participant and his or her parents?

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 email, or visit our current and prospective students on Facebook.

13. 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 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.

14. What support systems are in place for students while they are in country?

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

15. When are program fees due?

$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): due 60 days before the start of the program - for cancellation and refund policy, see question 16.

16. What is the cancellation and 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 (less the $50 Application Fee).

17. Are there other applicable fees or discounts?

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)

Application Discounts

  • $250: available for early submissions. See www.ciee.org/hsabroad for individual program deadlines. Discount is deducted from final balance.
  • 10% of program fee: available for all applicants who are alumni of a CIEE program or whose families have hosted a CIEE USA High School student.

18. What is included in the program fee?

Program tuition includes:

  • International airfare between U.S. departure city 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 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

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