University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Have Questions About Your Child Studying Abroad?

We realize parents have a lot of questions about their students studying abroad. To help dispel some of those concerns, the campus has put detailed information together to let you know what information has been provided to the student studying abroad. While ACES Education Abroad sponsored programs are separate from Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange (campus-wide) sponsored programs, information provided to students is standard information required to be given to all students studying abroad. You can find more information here.

Please contact the ACES Education Abroad office should you have an emergency or any other concerns. Please note that we are very limited in the information we can provide due to the FERPA laws; We must have approval from your son/daughter to speak with you. Students are asked to provide release of information to parents/guardians for accounting purposes but typically do not provide release of other information.

Study Abroad FAQ

Is it safe?

Yes. We would never send students some place that wasn't safe. Your child's personal safety there is the same as it would be if they remained on campus.  Statistically most of the programs students go on are safer than the United States when it comes to violent crimes. Remind your student that their personal safety is dependent on how they conduct themselves rather than their current location. 

Is it expensive?

This varies widely by the type of program that your child will be going on. Each of the programs offered through the ACES Education 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 for your child to attend Illinois. For shorter programs, look at the itinerary and see what opportunities your child may 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 your tuition on campus, not in addition to it. Click here to understand your child's bill.

How will we pay for it?

If your family filed for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) your child can use their 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 the FASFA if you have not already. Some students have even paid for their study abroad program through fundraising. Finally, there are study abroad specific scholarships that your child can apply for when they apply to their study abroad program. Check out our paying for study abroad page for more information.

Will it delay their graduation?

Studying abroad does not delay graduation for most students. During semester programs, your child will gain as much credit as they do on campus. For winter break or summer sessions, they can earn credit 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.

Does my child have to speak the language of their program's host country?

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

What official documents will my student need to travel?

Depending on the program your child is enrolled in, they will need a passport and possibly a visa. Some visas are obtained at the consulate of the country your child 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?

Your child should apply for his/her passport several months before he/she is scheduled to travel as the process sometimes takes as long as 6 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 the student plans to return 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 you to have a valid, up-to-date passport so that in the unlikely event of illness or in an emergency, you would be able to travel quickly to your child’s location.

How should my child handle currency exchange?

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 your child will be travelling, and be sure to have a backup plan, such as several hundred dollars or an additional credit card. You will also want to know the fees that apply for international withdrawals.

How can I stay in touch with my child while he/she is abroad?

Most students will use an internet service to call home such as Skype or Viber. Many students abroad will pick up a pay-as-you-go phone to make local calls. If your child 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.

Additional Information