University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Frequently Asked Questions

If you are having trouble finding the answers to your questions, check the Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange website, or contact ACES Study Abroad at aces-studyabroad@illinois.edu.

Is studying abroad expensive?

This varies widely by the type of program. Each of the programs offered through the ACES Study Abroad Office and the University of Illinois have budget sheets attached to the top left hand side of their program page. These budget sheets are not comprehensive, but do give a good estimate of how much the program costs. We recommend comparing this to how much you spend per semester to attend Illinois. For shorter programs, look at the itinerary and see what opportunities you can have by going on that program. It is important to know that the program fee for studying abroad is in place of the cost of tuition on campus, not in addition to it.

How will I pay for it?

If you filed for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) you can use financial aid money, including grants and loans to help pay for study abroad. It is important to note that some scholarships may not qualify and you should check to make sure. Additionally, you can apply to FASFA if you have not already. There are study abroad specific scholarships that can be applied to before or after being accepted into a study abroad program. Some student groups pay for study abroad trips through fundraising. Check with your advisor and any faculty coordinating your study abroad experience to see if there are opportunities to reduce the cost of the trip that you should be aware of.

Will studying abroad delay graduation?

Studying abroad does not delay graduation for most students. During semester programs, you will gain as much credit as you would on campus. For winter break or summer sessions, credit can be earned for field courses and general credits. Some students have even been able to double-dip their requirements by taking courses that are not available to them on campus or that meet requirements for multiple courses. This can save both time and money.

Are there language requirements?

No. For most of the programs offered through the College of ACES, there are courses in English for students to take. 

Is it safe?

Yes. We would never send students some place that wasn't safe. Personal safety abroad is the same as it would be if they remained on campus. Personal safety can also be dependent on how they conduct themselves while studying abroad. 

What official documents will my student need to travel?

Depending on the program a passport will be needed and possibly a visa. Some visas are obtained at the consulate of the country you will be studying in. Other visas, usually called “residency permits” are obtained once the student arrives at their destination. The visa cannot be applied for until an official letter from the foreign university arrives. A few countries also require proof that the student has sufficient funds and insurance. 

What is the process for obtaining a passport?

You should apply for a passport several months before scheduled to travel as the process sometimes takes as long as 8 weeks to complete, and because the passport is needed in order to apply for a visa. Passports need to be valid for at least 6 months after returning from study abroad. Information about how and where to apply for U.S. passports can be found on the U.S. Department of State website. This website also provides information about local U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, how to get information in a national or international emergency, and other useful travel information.

It is also a good idea for an emergency contact to have an up-to-date passport so that in the unlikely event of illness or in an emergency, they would be able to travel to where you are studying abroad.

How should currency exchange be handled?

In many countries, ATM debit cards are the most convenient method of getting foreign currency at a favorable rate of exchange. Be sure that your banks and credit card companies know where you will be travelling, and be sure to have a backup plan, such as cash or an additional credit card. You will also want to know the fees that apply for international withdrawals on your accounts.

How can I stay in touch while abroad?

Most students will use an internet service to call home such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Many students abroad will pick up a pay-as-you-go phone to make local calls. If you're is bringing a smart phone, be sure that you know the costs associated. Many students bring them but just use them when they have WiFi access.

What about immunizations?

The McKinley Health Center provides information and immunization services for students looking to travel abroad.