Parents & Family

Your role in your student's adventure: 

It is important for you, as a caregiver, to understand the steps students must follow on their path to learning abroad. Please visit our Living Abroad page for more information about our processes, a link to our Pre-Departure Guide, as well as tips on how to assist your student in making their international experience a success.

The Study Abroad Office is student-centered. We purposefully strive to communicate with and send all correspondence directly to our students. As it’s ultimately your student who will be abroad, we aim for your student to take the lead in their own experience. We believe the application and pre-departure process is a key part of preparing them for their time abroad and hope that you support and motivate them as they get ready to leave the country.

Pre-Departure Information

We have a Pre-Departure meeting every semester to prepare your student for their study abroad experience. While it is mandatory for students, it is optional for parents. We welcome the chance to speak with you about any questions and concerns that you might have. Talk to your student about coming with them to their Pre-Departure meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions

While we are pleased to talk with parents and family members to answer questions, in many cases we cannot share information out of compliance for FERPA student privacy regulations.

When you do have questions, please funnel them through your student, having him/her serve as the family representative. Many times, the student already has this information and will be able to answer your questions.

Why should my student study abroad?

  • Studying abroad boosts student’s self-confidence, independence, and leadership skills. It helps them develop cross cultural communication skills and adaptability, making them stand out in a job interview, all while earning credits towards their degree. Studies show that students with study abroad experience are more desirable job candidates, than those that did not. Especially when they participate in a major/minor specific program!

How long is a study abroad program?

  • It depends on what your student is looking for. We offer program duration's that range from 10 days to 10 months! Students also have the opportunity to study abroad for the fall, spring or summer semester. Many programs also offer a full academic year abroad option.

When can/should my student study abroad?

  • Students are allowed to study abroad once they have completed 24 credit hours or 2 semesters at a college or university by the time they depart for their program. This means students can study abroad as early as the summer after their freshman year. We encourage students to start planning a one or two semesters in advance for studying abroad. Many students study abroad in their sophomore or junior year; however, if the appropriate planning is done, students are able to study abroad any semester or summer.

Is it safe to study abroad?

  • There are always risks with studying abroad, just like there are risks traveling within the United States. ISU does not allow students to study abroad in places with increased risks or travel warnings. However, much of the safety of the student depends on their ability to use good judgment and to make mature decisions. This is also stressed during the student’s mandatory pre-departure health and safety orientation.

Does my student need to speak a foreign language?

  • No, all courses will be taught in English, unless the student is participating in a language immersion program.

Academic Questions

Will my student's credits transfer?

  • Yes! All courses taken while studying abroad on a Study Abroad Office approved program will earn ISU transfer credit. In order to receive credit, students must be accepted by the Study Abroad Office and participating in a program run through ISU.

What types of courses are available?

  • Courses vary among universities. Most classes can be used to fulfill general education requirements and/or major/minor-specific courses. Students should consult with their Academic Advisor as well as their Study Abroad Advisor to determine appropriate courses and how they fit into their plan of study.

How is learning abroad different from learning in the U.S.?

  • Many countries follow different education systems and utilize different teaching methods than what is typically seen in the U.S. Classes may be more independent with fewer assignments, quizzes and/or exams. Students must take more responsibility for obtaining, retaining, and processing the course material.

Will there be an on-site academic mentor or advisor available?

  • Students participating in a Faculty-Led program will have an ISU professor leading the group. Most host universities have an on-site advisor/mentor as well.

Will a Professor/Faculty member accompany my student on their program?

  • It depends on which program your student chooses. Typically, Faculty-Led programs are only available during the summer or during academic breaks. While your student may not have a specific ISU Faculty member accompanying them on his/her program, they will have access to the host institution’s international office and/or staff personnel.

Financial Questions

How much will study abroad cost?

  • Studying abroad can be surprisingly affordable! Cost varies depending on the type, duration, and location your student chooses. Short-term programs are usually more affordable because they are shorter in duration. Semester programs can be comparable to or even less than a semester on campus, or they can cost substantially more. It is important to note all ISU budgets allocate funds for airfare, passport, living expenses, etc. Please see our Budget Page for estimated budgets for each program.

Can my student use financial aid to study abroad?

  • Most types of financial aid are applicable to ISU study abroad programs. See the Financial Aid page for more information.

Are scholarships available?

  • Yes! Please refer to the Scholarships page.

Are program fees refundable?

  • Once a student has been accepted by the Study Abroad Office, it depends on at which point in the application process your student withdraws from their program. Please see the Withdrawal and Refund Policy page for more information.

How much spending money is needed?

  • The amount of money needed depends on the length and location of the program, as well as the student’s spending habits. Everyone spends a little differently. We recommend students research their host country and surrounding areas before departure to get an idea of what types of additional

How are finances handled?

  • Students are able to use an ATM in most places of the world. It is best to check with your bank ahead of time to see if your current ATM card can be used abroad, what charges may apply, etc. Notify your bank and credit card company that your student will be abroad and dates they will be traveling, otherwise you run the risk of having a block put on the account! Please discuss how you will handle finances with your student before they go abroad.

Should my student open a bank account in their host country?

  • Opening a bank account abroad is only recommended for students studying for a semester or longer. But in some countries this may be an extremely difficult process or prohibited all together.

Travel Questions

What documents are needed for international travel?

  • The documents your student will need vary depending on the program duration and location. It is recommended that your student apply for a passport several months before his/her departure date. Each country has specific requirements to enter into the country. Visas are the responsibility of the student. The student must secure any necessary documentation before leaving the country.

Does ISU coordinate flights or does my student need to purchase his/her own plane ticket?

  • Your student is responsible for purchasing their own plane ticket. While the Study Abroad staff does not coordinate student flights, we do make every effort to connect students with fellow participants, allowing them the opportunity to find flight companions and make travel arrangements together. ISU does not recommend students purchase their flights until after they have been accepted and provided specific logistic/arrival information.

Are students able to travel to other countries?

  • Traveling depends on the student and the program. Students may have the option to participate in excursions or travel independently while abroad. Many affiliate programs offer excursions within the country which are included in the program cost.

Health and Safety Questions

What type of insurance is required for studying abroad?

  • Students are required to have international health insurance while participating in a study abroad program.

How do I know if my insurance covers my student internationally?

  • If your student is using HTH Insurance, he/she has worldwide coverage. If you would prefer to use your family health insurance, this information is typically available on your insurance company’s website. A quick call to your company can also answer this question and provide specific coverage information.

What is an ISIC Card?

  • An ISIC card provides additional travel insurance, allowing students enjoy thousands of discounts and benefits worldwide, and it can be used as an alternate form of ID if passport is lost or stolen.

Does my student have to get an ISIC card?

  • No, but it is recommended for all student’s studying abroad to purchase an ISIC card. This is ISU’s way of ensuring all students have some international health insurance while abroad. The only exception is if a student has a current card from a previous study abroad program and it will be valid for the duration of their program. If this is the case, the student must submit proof of lasting coverage for the duration of their program to their Study Abroad Advisor before acceptance.

What are the housing options?

  • Housing depends on the program. Students studying for the summer, semester or year usually reside in a dormitory, apartment, or homestay. For faculty-led programs, students usually stay in a hotel or hostel. Specific housing information can be found on each program page. No independent housing is allowed.

How can I help my student prepare for their trip abroad?

  • Reviewing the Pre-Departure Guide is an excellent way to help your student prepare for a safe and successful experience abroad. This includes topics such as finances, defining a communication plan, handling emergency situations, culture shock, and many more.