Information for Parents
Education Abroad staff serve as a resource for parents and other family members of prospective students, current students, and study abroad/exchange alumni. Use the "Contact Us" button at the top of the page for more information.
Study abroad programs range widely in price. Program fees depend on program selection and which city or country your student chooses. For example, some cities may be more expensive than other cities within the same country, or some programs may be more expensive overall.
U of I students may qualify for financial aid regardless of the chosen program. The good news is that if your student qualifies for financial aid for attending U of I, then financial aid will be re-evaluated for the study abroad experience and in many cases increase to meet a higher cost study abroad program. For example, federal financial aid will take into account that your student may spend more money on items such as airfare and that will be factored into the overall financial aid award. It is best to check with Student Financial Aid Services if specific U of I or state scholarships may or may not be transferable for study abroad.
Additionally, there are many study abroad scholarships available for students who are eligible. The U of I automatically considers all eligible study abroad students for the International Experience Grant (IEG). The IEG awards $150,000 per year to U of I undergraduate study abroad students in $1,000 increments. For more details about the various scholarships for which your student might be eligible, please check out our Financing Study Abroad page.
The Student Accounts & Cashier's Office may set up payment plan options for study abroad programs. This can help make the payment process easier for parents. Please note that there is a small fee to set up a payment plan, and this only applies to fees that are directly billed to the University of Idaho. You may contact email@example.com for additional details about this option. If your student has fees that are due to a different organization (this is very common) you will need to contact that organization directly to arrange payments.
Finally, it helps to compare the cost to the experience gained, also known as the value of the program. While cost is a significant consideration in program selection, do not forget to also include the quality and impact of the experience when deciding the right program for your student.
The benefits of study abroad range from a deeper knowledge of self to invaluable career skills. Study abroad may introduce your student to the emerging global world. It will prepare them with the practical experience and intercultural skills that many employers look for in today’s job market: personal maturity, risk-taking, innovativeness, adaptability and confidence. In other words, your student will gain career-preparedness with an additional capacity to navigate the global marketplace.
Study abroad may also help your student take leaps in their intellectual and social development. It will foster independence and may create both a strong national and world identity. They may gain confidence for overcoming any and all obstacles that stand in the way, and in overcoming these obstacles, they may augment their global, national and personal views.
Parents and family members are understandably concerned about their student's safety while abroad. It helps to realize that the U.S. has inherent dangers in the exact same way that traveling abroad does. Furthermore, media outlets focus on the negative and sometimes over-sensationalize political upheavals, strife and natural disasters abroad. You can rest more easily knowing that our number one priority is doing everything in our power to help your student have a safe and successful experience abroad, and that we will not send any students to areas of the world that we consider inherently unsafe.
While every effort is made to keep your child safe it is also important to understand that study abroad programs and/or university offices (such as the U of I Education Abroad) cannot guarantee the safety of your student, and neither can they monitor the decisions that your student makes while abroad. Often, U.S. norms of due process, rights and equality are not norms in the host country. U of I Education Abroad remains in contact with program administrators, resident directors and any other staff who are in touch with students abroad, and closely observes the U.S. Department of State safety updates. Ultimately, however, your student is subject to the laws of the country where they are studying, and the primary responsibility in keeping your student safe lies with them.
Participants need to know and obey the laws of the host country because they are subject to the laws of that country regardless of their rights as Americans. American civil rights and legal procedures are not protected once Americans leave the United States. Prison conditions may be sub-standard and pre-trial bail may be different and/or non-existent in the host country. Other protections that Americans often take for granted, like the prohibition on being prosecuted for the same crime twice, are often non-existent in other judicial systems.
The Embassy and/or Consulate(s) in the host country can provide only limited kinds of assistance to Americans, but they are an excellent resource in the case of an emergency involving American citizens while traveling.
Students are given information about health issues specific to their respective host countries, and are encouraged to review travel information from the Centers for Disease Control and they can also get information at TripPrep. Most study abroad sites have good medical access, and the U.S. Embassy can provide students with a list of English-speaking doctors as well as their proximity to the program site.
Away From Home
Students may acquire a bank account in some programs within some host countries. This may allow for any money transfers that your student may need (wire transfers, American Express money orders, foreign currency drafts or cashier’s checks). Be aware that wire transfers can be very expensive, and are only a good option for sending large amounts of money.
One easy and inexpensive way to send smaller amounts of money to your student is to open a joint checking account in the U.S. Parents can then deposit money into the account while their student (who has a debit card tied to the account) can withdraw the money from abroad. This is a good option for most countries, but it is wise to verify with your bank that this is possible before going abroad. Students should also be equipped with an emergency credit card, if possible, while abroad. This may ensure that they may have money for emergencies.
Above all, parents and family members will need to prepare themselves for the lack of communication that they will face while their student is abroad, especially in the beginning of the program. Wireless network and WiFi access are usually available, but the quality of connections depends on the infrastructure within the host country. There may be new barriers of both time and space. Do not worry if there is a gap in communication frequency - this is normal. Talk with your student ahead of time and consider what methods you are hoping to use to stay in contact: WhatsApp uses WiFi to make calls and send texts and pictures on both Android and iPhone. Facebook and Instagram messengers are easy to use and allow for different features.
Culture shock can be described as the physical and emotional discomfort people suffer when living in a culture different from their native culture. It manifests in people differently and at different times. Some common symptoms of culture shock include overeating or drinking, undereating or disinterest in local food, sleeping a lot and feeling exhausted, staying in more than usual, feeling irritable or antsy, or feeling homesick or depressed. If your student communicates that they are feeling any of these things, encourage them to speak with their on-site support system, and remind them of the resources they have at their disposal. It's hard to feel helpful from far away, but there are resources available to your student to help them overcome culture shock.
Returned From Abroad
Students who study abroad for a semester are registered at U of I for 12 credit hours in most situations, regardless of how many credits they actually take while abroad. This 12 credit placeholder registration ensures that the student is registered as a full-time student at U of I. When Education Abroad receives the transcript or grade report from the host institution, the student’s U of I registration will be changed to reflect the actual credits received. This will happen after the student returns from abroad and can take some time to receive. If your student has questions about their transcript, contact us.
This is a common problem for parents whose children go on an academic year-long study abroad program, but it is usually easy to solve. If you or your accountant need to show additional detail for tax purposes, U of I Education Abroad or the appropriate program provider will do everything in their power to assist you. We may be able to provide an invoice reflecting the appropriate costs and payments, or provide other helpful services.
Your student is finally home, but something is different. You may not understand their reactions, or why they seem irritable or negative towards you or your home culture. After all this time apart, shouldn’t they be excited to see you?
If this is the case, your student may be experiencing reverse culture shock. They may feel out of touch with home, as they are now accustomed to the lifestyle abroad. Reverse culture shock is normal and does dissipate with time. Read more about reverse culture shock.