Frequently Asked Questions
How long has AIFS been sending students abroad?
Since 1964, the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) has been providing study abroad programs of the highest quality.
Why should we choose AIFS?
On an AIFS program, students can expect the best value for their money. We include an optional Transportation package, a London stopover for European programs, a comprehensive insurance plan, centrally located housing, a meal plan, great cultural activities and excursions, tuition and a dedicated support team on-site and in our offices in Stamford, CT. Most colleges throughout the United States recognize the quality of an AIFS program and easily accept the credits taken at our locations.
My daughter/son has limited travel experience; will this be an issue?
The staff at AIFS guides students through every step of the process, from submitting their application materials, to applying for a visa, to airport transfers. The level of attention provided assures a smooth transition to life overseas for our participants.
Which semester should my daughter/son study abroad?
Students should consult with their academic advisor and the study abroad office at their home university to determine which semester best fits into their academic plan.
What do we do in the event of an emergency?
The AIFS team of Resident Directors abroad and Admissions Officers here in the United States is equipped to handle all emergencies for our students. The AIFS Protection Package is a comprehensive insurance plan that covers our participants in the event of medical emergency, evacuation and program cancellation. Detailed information regarding the insurance coverage can be found at www.aifsabroad.com/parents/included.asp#insurance.
Can I send packages abroad to my daughter/son? Any special tips?
Every country is different, but students receive a detailed packet before they depart explaining the best methods for their family and friends to reach them by mail. Prescription medication should not be mailed to students once they are abroad as it is often held up in Customs. Please work with your doctor and insurance provider to obtain a semesterís worth of medication for the student to carry with him/her.
How many students participate in each program?
This number really varies depending on location, but please call our U.S. Office for further details.
Are flights included in the fee?
On all of our programs, students are able to select an optional transportation package. Students who choose to book their own flight should meet up with the group at the program location and will need to make their own ground transportation arrangements.
What are the benefits of the AIFS transportation package?
When a student opts for the AIFS transportation package, he/she can expect the convenience of arranged flights and the ease and safety of pick-up at the airport overseas. For European programs, a three-day stopover in London is also included.
Where is my daughter/son living, and with whom?
Student housing is included on all of our programs. Although each program varies, housing options include residence halls, host families and apartments. AIFS students generally live with other AIFS participants in arranged housing.
Will my daughter/son have a curfew in his/her homestay or residence hall?
AIFS participants are adults and treated as such, so no curfew is required. They are expected to behave as adults and to treat their host families and other residents with respect and courtesy.
How do you select homestay families?
Most host families used on our program have been with AIFS for many years. Generally, they are an older couple with extra space, but family structure will vary at each program location and household. New host families are taken on by recommendation of our current families and are thoroughly vetted.
What is the meal plan like?
Meal plans vary depending upon location, but typically AIFS students receive two meals a day, Monday through Friday, either through vouchers or in a university cafeteria. Please refer to the specific program webpage for a detailed description of the meal allowance provided.
What if my daughter/son has dietary restrictions?
We often have students with specific dietary needs, and we do our best to accommodate. Please be sure the program Admissions Officer is informed of any dietary needs during the application process.
What should my daughter/son pack?
A detailed packing list is provided to all students in the online AIFS acceptance portal.
Does my daughter/son need a cell phone while abroad? If so, are they available for purchase?
Detailed information on purchasing a pay-as-you-go phone will be presented during orientation. Also, Skype has become a popular form of communication for our participants and their family/friends back home.
What does the application process include?
The application typically includes an official transcript, passport photos, recommendation from a professor, an essay, a signed course selection sheet and disciplinary clearance form. Application requirements vary by program; students will have access in their online AIFS portal to all required forms they must submit.
Students applying must have their courses approved by their school as part of the application process.
Can my daughter/son get academic credit for their overseas classes?
Most colleges throughout the United States accept the credits taken on AIFS programs. However, students must confirm credit transfer with their academic advisor and study abroad office at their home university. An official transcript will be issued by the university abroad and sent to each studentís home university at the end of the semester.
How many classes will students be taking?
On our semester programs, students must take a full course load in order to be considered full-time students due to visa regulations. Typically this means four to five three-credit courses. On our summer programs, the course load is usually one or two three-credit classes.
Can financial aid be used toward program fees?
AIFS does allow students to use financial aid towards a majority of their program fees. When a student is accepted into the program he/she will have access to a financial aid form that must be completed by the home university. The form asks for information regarding the type of financial aid (loans, scholarships, grants etc), the amount of each, and when the money will be dispersed. It is ok if the actual financial aid funds are not available by our payment deadlines, as long as the form is completed and returned to us by then. Financial aid balances are due to AIFS upon disbursement, please discuss with your daughterís/sonís home university whether the funds will be sent directly to AIFS or whether the student will receive the money and will be responsible for forwarding it to AIFS.
There are some fees that cannot be covered by financial aid and will need to be paid by our payment deadline. These include: the enrollment deposit, the damage deposit, flight fees, optional excursions, and any remaining balances the students have that the financial aid package does not cover.
How much extra money do you recommend for books and spending money?
Budgeting is very personal. For most of our locations students should have access to between $600 and $800 a month to cover course materials, additional meals, public transport, travel and any other personal expenses.
What is the best method for students to access money while abroad?
Students can access their bank accounts through ATMs abroad with their debit card. Contact your bank to notify them the card will be used overseas and inquire about any fees they might charge.
Are scholarships available?
Yes, AIFS offers a number of scholarship for our semester and summer programs. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher in order to be considered for the awards. All the information on the AIFS Scholarships can be found on our website.