Student Resources & FAQs

At AIFS, we support all students in their study abroad journey, regardless of their gender, race, religion, age, physical ability, or sexual orientation. Everyone has a complex identity, and the different aspects of your identity can be important when deciding on a study abroad location.

We encourage you to use the information here to select the program that will be the best fit for your interests and needs and to revisit these resources throughout your study abroad journey. We also encourage you to visit your university's study abroad website and office as they might have more information and resources related to social identities and studying abroad.

While abroad, if you experience challenges related to your identity or want to talk to someone, we encourage you to connect with your Resident Director in-country. They will be able to provide guidance and support to you as well as point you toward resources in your host country to assist with your experience.

If you would like to speak with AIFS alumni who share your social identities, please email us at alumni@aifs.com and let us know and we would be happy to connect you with former AIFS program participants.

 

  • Race, Ethnicity & Studying Abroad: This handout poses questions to consider related to your identity and studying abroad.
  • Diversity Abroad: Provides information on international destinations, including funding opportunities, for diverse and underrepresented students
  • PLATO: A compilation of organizations, resources, and scholarships that support academic advancement for underrepresented groups who study abroad 
  • Ron Brown Scholarship: RBSP competitively awards Ron Brown Scholars four-year $40,000 scholarships ($10,000 each year) to the most talented and economically-challenged high school seniors who demonstrate a keen interest in public service, community engagement, business entrepreneurship and global citizenship
  • Jackie Robinson Scholarship: “JRF Scholars” receive grants of up to $30,000 over four years to complement the financial aid they receive from their colleges or universities.
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund Scholarships: Information on several types of scholarships available for students who attend one of the 47 TMCF member-schools. 
  • United Negro College Fund: The UNCF manages various scholarship programs and each program has its own eligibility criteria, open/close dates and required documentation. To apply for a UNCF scholarship, you must apply through the on-line application process.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: The NAACP offers nmumerous scholraships, each with their own eligibility criteria. Visit their site for more details on the funding opportunities available.
  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund: HSF empowers families with the knowledge and resources to successfully complete a higher education, while providing scholarships and support services to as many exceptional students as possible.
  • Travel Noire: Cultivated insights from a global community of black travelers.
  • Minority Rights Group International: Contains information on history and minority populations around the world
  • Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales: African American Perspectives: Guide from GoAbroad with tips and scholarship information for black students interested in studying abroad.
  • Top 10 Reasons for African Americans to Study Abroad: Article by Starlett Craig, Director of Pre-College Enrichment Programs at Clemson University, on importance of study abroad experience for black students. 

  • Diversity Abroad: Tips and must ask questions about religion for study abroad students
  • BBC Guide to World Religions: Brief overview of religions around the world with links to additional resources.
  • International Religious Freedom Report: The Department of State’s annual report to congress on international religious freedom, describes the status of religious freedom in every country.
  • KAHAL: Resources for Jewish students going abroad, including information on how to keep Kosher.
  • U.S. Department of State Religious Freedom Information: Information about international religious freedom and includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. 
  • Pluralism Project: The site, hosted by Harvard University, offers extensive information on world religions and focuses on the meaning of religious pluralism.
  • Zabihah: Directory of halal restaurants and stores worldwide.
  • Islamic Finder: Directory of prayer times, Islamic organizations, and mosques worldwide.
  • All Hindu Temples: Hindu temple directory in more than 50 countries.
  • Church Finder: Directory of international church listings.
  • World Buddhist Directory: Searchable directory of Buddhist centers around the world.
  • International Humanist and Ethical Union: IHEU is the world union of over a hundred Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.
  • First-Generation Students & Studying Abroad: This handout poses questions to consider related to your identity and studying abroad.
  • Diversity Abroad: Tips for students as they start their study abroad process
  • I’m First: An online community for first-generation college students—and their supporters. Hear inspiring stories and share your own, discover colleges that care about first-gen students, find answers to your questions about college, and receive guidance on the road to and through college.
  • First Generation Students Abroad: University of Chicago's resource for First Gen students considering study abroad.
  • One of the biggest perceived barriers to studying abroad is funding. Below are some great resources to help invest in your education abroad experience.
  • AIFS Scholarships: Each year, more than $800,000 in scholarships, grants and financial support is awarded to deserving students & institutions. Funds are available for both summer and semester programs. The scholarships listed are not available to students on AIFS customized faculty-led programs. If you are participating in a program through your school, check with the study abroad director for details of any special AIFS scholarships that may be available.
  • Boren Scholarships: An initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.
  • Critical Language Scholarship: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the CLS is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Diversity Abroad Scholarships: Directory of scholarships and programs, with a focus on resources for minority, low income and first generation college students.
  • Fund for Education Abroad Scholarships: Grants scholarships up to $10,000. Applicants from groups underrepresented in study abroad and those destined for non-traditional locations are given preference, in an effort to make the demographics of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad reflect the rich diversity of the U.S. population.
  • Gates Millennium Scholars Program: The goal of GMS is to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for thousands of outstanding Pell Grant eligible students of color to reach their fullest potential.
  • Generation Study Abroad Scholarships: A five-year initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE) to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of doubling the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade.
  • Gilman Scholarship: Aims to diversify the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go by offering awards to U.S. undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.
  • GoAbroad.com Scholarships: A directory of program options and scholarships 
  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund: Resources on funding for Hispanic students
  • StudyAbroad.com Scholarships: A directory of program options and scholarships
  • In addition to loans and scholarships, there are several ways for students to fund their time abroad. Below is a list of some basic activities to get started.

Letter writing campaign

  • Reach out to companies and organizations you would like to potentially work for and explain how this experience would be of benefit to them:
    1. Family and extended family
    2. Co-workers
    3. Family co-workers
    4. Church
    5. Social organizations (4-H, Kiwanis, Rotary, etc)
    6. Greek organizations
    7. Students on your campus
    8. Friends at other universities

Lifestyle

  • “Keep the change” savings accounts that round up to the nearest dollar on your purchases and put funds directly into a separate savings account
  • Review and alter your daily spending habits to find ways to cut back on your discretionary spending
  • Ask families to give you money or travel-related gifts for holidays and birthdays
  • Consider a part-time job

Crowdfunding

One of the most popular and creative fundraising ideas currently is crowdfunding, which is the practice of raising small money from numerous people to fund a project (in this case study abroad). Previous AIFS students have found success from this practice and have raised thousands of dollars toward their program fees. Most sites charge either a per-donation or one-time fee for using their service and students should research the crowdsourcing platforms available online to determine which site best suits their needs. Once you have a personalized crowdfunding website you should share the link on your social media platforms to spread the word and consider getting business cards made that you can pass out to everyone. Strangers are often willing to donate to your cause if you have a compelling story and are only asking for $2. Keep in mind that every dollar counts.

 

AIFS assumes no responsibility for the professional private organizations whose links appear above. The inclusion of the websites above on this site does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of AIFS. Additionally, AIFS has not verified the accuracy of information included on those websites nor is AIFS involved in updating the information on websites maintained by private groups or organizations.

 

Student FAQs

  • Why should I choose AIFS?
    On an AIFS program, you can expect the best value for your money and are 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.
  • What does the application process include?
    The application typically includes an official transcript, passport photos, 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.
  • How do I know if I need to get a visa for my program? How do I get my visa?
    If your program requires a visa it will be noted in the AIFS catalog and on the AIFS website. Once admitted to the program your AIFS Admissions Officer will share the required documents on your AIFS Student Portal and will provide guidance on how to apply for your visa. Please note that non-US citizens will be expected to determine and obtain all necessary visas to participate on the program. Any questions regarding the visa process should be referred to your program Admissions Officer.
  • I have limited travel experience; will this be an issue?
    The staff at AIFS can guide you through every step of the process, from submitting your application materials, to applying for a visa if needed, to airport transfers on arrival. The level of attention provided assures a smooth transition to life overseas for our participants.
  • How do I talk to my family about wanting to study abroad?
    We know that talking to your family about your plan to study abroad can be stressful at first, especially if they have not gone abroad themselves. As such, we have put together some tips to help you have this conversation.
  • When should I study abroad?
    Students should consult with their academic advisor and the study abroad office at their home university to determine which term best fits into their academic plan.
  • How do I choose my study abroad location?
    It's a big world and there are a lot of great locations to choose from. Before selecting your study abroad location it can help to think about your future. Do you have a dream career goal or a course that you need to take while abroad? If so, let that position direct your focus in exploring locations. You can search by academic discipline or length of time that you want to be abroad.
  • Internships, service learning and volunteer programs all offer additional opportunities to engage with your host culture in meaningful ways. Being able to say you studied abroad and did additional structured activities outside of the classroom can be a huge draw for a potential employer. Make sure to talk with your academic advisor to determine if your major requires an internship or volunteer hours for graduation.
  • The AIFS blog features posts from current and recent study abroad participants and provides more in-depth information about specific locations. You can also log into your AIFS student account and click the "Ask Alumni"; button to see a list of students who studied abroad from your university or in your country of interest.
  • How many students participate in each program?
    It varies depending on location; please call the U.S. office for further details at 1-800-727-2437.
  • Are there resources for students from underrepresented backgrounds who are interested in going abroad?
    Yes, at AIFS, we believe in the power of international exchange to bring the world together and want to support all students as they change the way they see their world; no matter their gender, race, religion, age, physical ability, or sexual orientation. Our website has resources to help you throughout your study abroad journey. We also encourage you to visit your university's study abroad website and office as they might have more information and resources on diversity and inclusion in study abroad. While abroad, if you experience challenges related to your identity or want to talk to someone, we encourage you to connect with your Resident Director in-country. They will be able to provide guidance and support to you as well as point you toward resources in your host country to assist with your experience.
  • I am a part of a community that is underrepresented in study abroad. Is there someone I can talk to about going abroad as a member of one or many of these communities?
    We recognize the importance of being able to speak with others who have a shared experience and are a part of your community. If you would like to speak with program alumni, please email alumni@aifs.com and indicate which communities you belong to (ex: student of color, student with a disability, first generation college student, etc.) and we will do our best to connect you with others. We also encourage you to check out the Student Resources section of our website (above) for materials that might be helpful to you throughout your study abroad experience. We also offer scholarships specifically to students of diverse backgrounds. You can find out more about all our scholarships here.
  • I'm worried that my study abroad location will not be accepting of my identities.
    We understand that you might have concerns related to your identity that could affect your decision to study abroad and/or influence your location choice. We are committed to helping you find the best location for your needs and will do everything we can to support you throughout your study abroad experience. If you would like to discuss concerns related to your identities, you are encouraged to connect with your Admissions Officer or contact our Director of Diversity and Alumni Initiatives at alumni@aifs.com.
  • I need an accommodation to consider studying abroad. How do I communicate this to AIFS?
    We want to support all our students through their study abroad journey. You should download the applicable access forms from the Student Resources section of the AIFS website (above). Upon completion, these forms can be returned to the Admissions Officer for your 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 needs, it might take weeks to be able to confirm answers from our program locations. Your Admissions Officer will contact you with more information as the process continues.
  • If you do not have a location in mind, but want to go to whichever location can provide the accommodations you need, please email your 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 requests, but we will do everything within our means to ensure you have a fulfilling study abroad experience.
  • How can I speak with students who have studied abroad with AIFS?
    When you create your free AIFS student account, you gain access to our vast alumni network who are happy to answer questions about specific locations and the study abroad process in general. To connect with alumni, click on the "Ask Alumni" button in your AIFS student portal. You can search by program location and host university.

  • Will there be AIFS staff on-site to help me?
    Yes, each AIFS program location has staff on-site who can assist you while abroad as well as provide resources on different aspects of your experience. Bios for overseas staff can be found in the AIFS catalogs and in the program sections of the website.
  • Are flights included in the fee?
    You can select an optional transportation package for all AIFS programs. 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. Your program’s Admissions Officer can provide more information on the transportation package.
  • What are the benefits of the AIFS transportation package?
    When you opt for the AIFS transportation package, you can expect the convenience of arranged flights and the ease and safety of pick-up at the airport overseas. For some European programs, a stopover in London is also included.
  • Where will I live, and with whom?
    Student housing is included on all AIFS programs. Although each program varies, housing options include residence halls, host families and shared apartments. AIFS students generally live with other AIFS participants in arranged housing. More information can be found by visiting the specific program location you are considering and click on the "Living Abroad" navigation menu on the right side of the page.
  • Will I have a curfew in my homestay or residence hall?
    AIFS participants are adults and treated as such, so no curfew is required. You are expected to behave as adults and to treat your host families and other residents with courtesy and respect.
  • How do you select homestay families?
    Most host families on AIFS programs have been with AIFS for many years. Generally, they are an older couple with extra space, but the 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 I have dietary restrictions?
    AIFS often has students with specific dietary needs, and we do our best to accommodate them. Please be sure the program Admissions Officer is informed of any dietary needs you have during the application process.
  • What should I pack?
    A detailed packing list is provided to all students in the online AIFS acceptance portal.
  • Do I 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 the on-site orientation. Skype and FaceTime have become popular forms of communication for participants and their family/friends back home.
  • Is Wi-Fi available at my location of interest?
    All AIFS program locations have Wi-Fi available to participants at their overseas university. Some program locations have Wi-Fi available in the accommodation as well. Students should check with the Admissions Officer for their program of interest to learn more about internet connectivity overseas.

  • 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 student's financial aid package:
    • Optional AIFS Flight Package, fees and flight penalties
    • Optional excursions
    • $750 enrollment deposit (semester programs only)
    • Any remaining balance the student has that the financial aid package does not cover
  • Are scholarships available?
    Yes, AIFS offers scholarships for our semester, January term and summer programs each year. More than 50% of students receive a grant and/or scholarship from AIFS. Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher to be considered for the awards. All the information on the AIFS scholarships can be found on our Scholarships and Grants website.
  • Can you do multiple programs with AIFS? Is there is a discount for doing multiple programs with AIFS?
    Absolutely – we would love to have you participate in multiple AIFS Study Abroad programs and offer a grant for those that do. You are also encouraged to apply for any additional AIFS scholarships for which you qualify.
  • How much extra money do you recommend for books and spending money?
    Budgeting is very personal. For most of our locations you should have access to between $600 and $800 a month to cover course materials, additional meals, public transport, travel and any other personal expenses. You will be provided additional cost of living information for your specific study abroad location in your pre-departure handbook.
  • What is the best method for me to access money while abroad?
    You can access your bank accounts through ATMs abroad with your debit card. Contact your bank to notify them the card will be used overseas and inquire about any fees they might charge and partner banks they work with overseas. More information about banking in your specific study abroad location will be provided in the pre-departure handbook.
  • How many classes will I be taking?
    On our semester programs, you must take a full course load 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. January term programs consist of one, three-credit class.
  • How do I know whether my credits will transfer?
    Your home institution determines how credits will transfer. As a part of the AIFS application, you will complete a Course Approval Form, which will be signed off by your study abroad office staff and/or faculty at your university. We recommend getting additional courses approved in case you decide to change courses while abroad. An official transcript will be issued by the university abroad and sent to your home university at the end of the semester.
  • Do I need to know a foreign language to study abroad with AIFS?
    AIFS offers programs that can accommodate all levels of language learners – from the beginner to fluent and native speakers. While abroad, you will have the opportunity to increase your language competency through language partner programs and homestays with native speakers. According to the most recent AIFS Alumni Outcomes Survey, 48% of program alumni indicated participation in an AIFS Study Abroad Program contributed to their ability to speak a foreign language. Visit the AIFS blog to read posts from participants who studied a language abroad.
  • What is reentry shock? What can I do to successfully navigate the process of coming back to the US after my time abroad?
    Many students find the process of returning to the US to be more challenging than the experience of going abroad. You have experienced another culture and have potentially changed a great deal. You might feel like life back home feels boring compared to your time abroad and be interested in making your career internationally-focused and going abroad again. We understand and have been there too. To minimize the effects of reentry shock, we encourage you to find meaningful ways to share your experience with others and offer several opportunities to do so.
  • When will I receive my transcript?
    Upon completion of their study abroad program, students are mailed one official transcript free of charge to their home school of record. Additional official transcripts are available upon written request.
  • How can I share my time abroad with others? AIFS offers several ways for you to share your time abroad with others. Details about all these opportunities can be found on the Alumni section of the website.