Parents

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are common questions that parents and family members have about studying abroad. You can also visit our student FAQ to learn more about AIFS. Family are welcome to email studyabroad@aifs.com if you have any questions that are not answered in these two areas.

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 my student choose AIFS?

On an AIFS program, you can expect the best value for your money and your student is supported through the entire process. Programs 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 from our office 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. More than 50% of our students receive financial support from AIFS in the form of scholarships or grants. In addition, our program fees are guaranteed in U.S. dollars (protecting you against currency fluctuation), we do not charge a credit card transaction fee, and do not require a damage deposit for any of our programs.

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.

My student needs accommodation for them to consider studying abroad. How do they communicate this to AIFS?

We want to support all our students through their study abroad journey. Your student should download the applicable access forms from the Student Resources section of the AIFS website. Upon completion, these forms can be returned to the Admissions Officer for their intended program location. The Admissions Officer will review the access form and liaise with our on-site staff to determine which accommodations can be made. Depending on your student's needs, it might take weeks to be able to confirm answers from our program locations. Your student's Admissions Officer will contact them with more information as the process continues.

If your student does not have a location in mind, but wants to go to whichever location can provide the accommodations they need, please have them email their form to alumni@aifs.com and our Director of Diversity and Alumni Initiatives will connect with Admissions and On-Site staff to provide recommendations on locations.

Please note that AIFS cannot guarantee that we will be able to honor your student's requests, but we will do everything within our means to ensure your student has a fulfilling study abroad experience.

Can studying abroad affect my studentís career opportunities?

Currently less than 10% of US college students study abroad, so having an international experience can be a great way for your student to set themselves apart from their peers in their job search. We offer several ways for program participants to learn how to process their experience and share it in a professional setting.

According to the most recent AIFS Alumni Outcomes Survey, alumni give clear affirmation to the value of studying abroad with regard to career impact. Over half (55%) of alumni reported "developing skills and intercultural competencies which contributed to obtaining my first job after graduation", and 86% reported that it impacted their "ability to adapt in diverse workplace environments.""

While many students return from abroad with a broadened set of interests for their professional lives, there is also an impact on intrapersonal considerations – with an inward focus on how to match interests and skill sets. A large majority of respondents reported that studying abroad contributed to the importance they place in finding interesting and fulfilling work (79%) and the "importance I place on having personal fulfillment in my work" (81%).

What is reentry shock? How can I support my student when they return from studying abroad?

Reentry shock is a common feeling for individuals returning to their home culture after being abroad. Like culture shock, which is experienced while abroad and involves the individual adapting to the differences of a new culture, reentry shock requires the individual to re-adapt to their own culture incorporating the experiences they had abroad. We know how challenging this process can be and offer several ways for program participants to learn how to process their experience and share it in a professional setting.

Are there any resources for me to better understand and support my student through their study abroad process?

Absolutely, below are links to a couple of publications that can help to explain the benefits and challenges of the study abroad process.

A Parent Guide to Study Abroad
Studying abroad equips students with real-life, hands-on skills that no classroom can match, while opening up a world of personal and professional opportunities. This book, co-authored by international careers expert Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, International Institute of Education (IIE) President Allan Goodman, and AIFS President and CEO William L. Gertz, contains critical information parents will need to inform themselves, as well as support their high school or college student as they navigate the study abroad experience. Full of practical information written specifically for parents, the authors make a strong case for the importance of parental involvement that can influence and shape a successful cross-cultural experience.

AIFS Student Guide to Study Abroad and Career Development
The goal of this Guide, written by Martin Tillman, is to provide students with a framework to understand the impact and added value of study abroad for their career development. Regardless of duration or destination, we believe students will benefit from considering the career implications of their decision to study abroad.

Making Meaning of Education Abroad
An interactive workbook designed to engage returned education abroad participants in critical reflection and vocabulary-building exercises to successfully articulate their international experiences in academic, community, professional, and advocacy settings. Through a series of structured and intentional activities, students learn how to connect their education abroad stories to their lives, families, peers, and communities at home. The publication was co-authored by AIFS Director of Alumni & Diversity Initiatives, Angela Manginelli.

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.

Does AIFS accept Financial Aid?

AIFS is happy to accept US Financial Aid and any outside grants or scholarships you receive. It is always up to their home institution and the scholarship provider to determine how funds can be applied to study abroad. Your student will need to work with their campus study abroad office, financial aid office and their AIFS Admissions Officer to file the necessary forms for aid to transfer. More than 50% of students receive a grant and/or scholarship from AIFS. Students are encouraged to apply for any funding opportunities for which they are eligible.

Regardless of how much financial aid you are expecting, the following items must be paid in full by the final payment deadline and may not be included in your studentís financial aid package:

  • Optional AIFS Flight Package, fees and flight penalties
  • Optional Excursions
  • $750 enrollment deposit (semester programs only)

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.