As a parent or family member of a Penn State student who is considering studying abroad for a year, a semester, a summer, or perhaps just a couple of weeks, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about this overall education abroad experience. Education Abroad welcomes your involvement so that we can together ensure the overall success of our students.
We've compiled a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" regarding Education Abroad, and have outlined those below. We also encourage you to browse our website to see the information available for your student.
Why should my student study abroad? By participating on a Penn State Education Abroad program, students receive Penn State credits and grades on Education Abroad programs. We encourage students to work closely with their academic advisers to choose a program that complements their study here at Penn State. Students can meet major, minor, and/or general education requirements while abroad. Additionally, education abroad brings a unique intercultural perspective to a student's chosen major or academic study.
Studying abroad can help students develop or improve foreign language skills as well.
In addition to the academic value of studying abroad, studying abroad helps students gain in-depth exposure to foreign cultures in a way that cannot be accomplished on a vacation. Students are exposed to new ways of thinking about the world and their own countries. Studying abroad promotes great intercultural competency skills and promotes greater confidence, independence, and self-sufficiency.
Finally, a study abroad program can help students in our growing international job market where less than 5% of US university students have participated in education abroad.
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How much is this going to cost? Affordability is an important factor when selecting an education abroad program, and our office works to provide affordable programs for Penn State students. The programs offered through Education Abroad vary in cost, depending on the features of the program, geographic location, length, inclusions in the program such as excursions and cultural activities, and the level of on-site support. Some programs may actually be similar or even less expensive than a semester at Penn State; however, most programs do end up costing more than a typical semester. Although we provide updated cost information as soon as it is available, institutions around the world determine program costs at different times. Costs may also be higher than expected due to fluctuating currency exchange rates.
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What costs are included on the bursar bill? To find the costs for the program your student will be participating on, locate the program on the Education Abroad website by searching the program database. An estimated budget sheet is available for every program on the program page. The costs to your student's bursar bill are listed at the top of the budget sheet (found on the program page for each program), and typically includes:
Semester tuition: Tuition is assessed at the regular University Park rate because students stay enrolled at Penn State while abroad.
Technology fee: Students are also assessed the mandatory PSU technology fee, just as they are every semester. Students retain their PSU email address, access to Penn State's online resources, digital libraries, etc...
EA Admin fee: For most programs, this administrative fee also covers the cost of HTH health insurance (required by Penn State for students studying abroad). For IES programs, students must purchase the HTH directly through IES.
Program fee: Not all programs will include a program fee; however, if your student's program includes a program fee, you can find more information about what this fee includes in the "Notes" section of the budget sheet.
At the bottom of the budget sheet are the other estimated expenses (NOT included on the bursar bill). Typically, this includes airfare, additional meals (if not provide by the program), visa fees, books/supplies, and additional personal expenses.
Billable charges will be posted to the students' bursar bills and payments will be received using standard University procedures via eLion. Typical payment options available through the Bursar's office are also available for study abroad students; however, students should expect to receive their bills about two weeks after standard bills are released.
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What financial aid or scholarships are available for my student?
Penn State students can use most components of their financial aid packages toward the cost of Education Abroad programs. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships. If students have questions regarding their financial aid, or are interested in pursuing more financial aid, students should contact the Office of Student Aid.
In addition to financial aid, there are a variety of scholarships available to students participating on an Education Abroad program. The University Office of Global programs offers several scholarships for students; other scholarships may be available through Penn State, such as through the College or department in which your student is enrolled, Schreyer Honors College, etc.... Students are encouraged to research these scholarships, as well as explore funding databases and other scholarships that might be available outside of Penn State. More information about these opportunities is available on the financial aid and scholarships page of this website.
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What kind of support does Education Abroad provide for my student? Education Abroad staff understand that preparing for and participating in an education abroad program can be at once exciting and overwhelming, so we provide strong educational support to students in all stages of preparation. However, we also require that students take an active role in preparing for their experience abroad and expect them to partner with our office in facilitating their participation in a program.
Before Acceptance: EA Advisers are available to meet with students before they apply to a program to help students to identify programs that fit with their academic and personal goals, and to learn more program-specific information. Additionally, students are encouraged to meet with Peer Advisers (returned study abroad students) to explore program options and to think about how to make the most out of their experiences abroad.
Post-acceptance: All students are required to attend a pre-departure orientation program, where advisers provide information about Penn State policies for studying abroad, academics at their host institution/program, program costs/billing, health and safety, cultural differences and culture shock, and conversations with past participants. Additionally, the Education Abroad office has a number of on-line resources available on the "Accepted Students" section of the website, including a required online orientation presentation and pre-departure guide.
Once Abroad: Education Abroad continues to communicate with students during their Education Abroad program. We send a series of emails to stay in touch and remind students of PSU policies. Additionally, EA staff are in continued contact with on-site staff at our programs.
Upon return: Once your student completes his/her program, EA staff work closely with faculty at Penn State to facilitate the course equivalencies process and to update your students' Penn State transcript with the courses and grades they received abroad. For more information about this process, please review the "Course Equivalencies" information on the EA website.
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What can my student do to be prepared for their program? Preparation is key to having a rewarding and positive education abroad experience. You can review the "Next Steps" and other sections of the Education Abroad website to see a quick outline of steps students should take once accepted to a program. It's very important that your student be sure to attend all pre-departure orientations facilitated by Education Abroad, as well as to read all important emails and documents carefully.
Additionally, we encourage students to contact past participants and other students who have previously studied abroad. These past participants can provide great information on what it's like to live and study abroad. Students can find more information about past participants on their program page on the Education Abroad website. Peer Advisers are also available to speak to students about their experiences abroad.
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How can I learn more about the program that my student will be studying on? We encourage you to explore the Education Abroad website for more information about our programs. Each program has a program page on the Education Abroad website that provides more information about the programs. You can find the program pages by searching the program database online. Many programs work with a host institution or program provider; you can find more information on the host programs by selecting the "homepage" link found on each program page.
Additionally, we encourage all students to share information they receive from Education Abroad or their host program with parents and family. Please ask your student to share this information with you.
Federal legislation authorizes Penn State to inform parents of violation of laws regarding alcohol, controlled substances, or general discipline involving students less than 21 years of age. For detailed information, see the following website: www.sa.psu.edu/ja. Please note that under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) we are not permitted to disclose other information without prior student consent.
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How can my student stay safe and healthy abroad? Education Abroad and the Student Health Insurance office have collaborated to provide a comprehensive student health insurance plan to provide consistent coverage and emergency assistance for Penn State students studying abroad. HTH Worldwide Health Insurance coverage is included as a benefit of all Education Abroad programs, regardless of any other insurance coverage. All semester and summer participants are enrolled in this plan as part of their acceptance paperwork and will receive an email from HTH directly with information on how to log-in to the HTH website to print their insurance card and access the insurance policy brochure and important phone numbers for the policy. The insurance coverage runs from the first day of the first month of their program to the last day of the last month of their program. Students who participate on embedded programs are also required to enroll in HTH insurance. This process will be facilitated by the faculty leader.
Additionally, Education Abroad provides information about health and safety during our pre-departure orientation programs. You can also review the sections of the Education Abroad website, Staying Healthy Abroad and Staying Safe Abroad, for more tips on health and safety abroad.
While the Penn State's Education Abroad office regularly monitors international security, there are a few steps you and your student can do to prepare for a safe experience abroad. To ensure that the proper authorities have the information they need in the event of an emergency, we encourage students to register on-line with the US Embassy or Consulate. Furthermore, at least one parent or family member of each of our participants should have a valid passport in case someone needs to join the student in the event of an emergency. Go to the top
Who should I contact in case of an emergency? We make every effort to provide students with local contact information before they leave. In some cases, students may not receive this information until the day they arrive on site or soon thereafter. Though we encourage students to contact their families as soon as possible after arrival, please understand that this may take a few days.
There is a resident coordinator or international programs staff person at each of our program sites abroad. This is the main contact person for your son or daughter should any on-site concerns or emergencies arise. Students are directed to consult this person if they need assistance as this person is our liaison and can handle most on-site issues.
For questions regarding emergencies on-site, you can contact the Education Abroad office at 814-865-7681, Monday through Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. For emergencies that occur after hours, please contact Penn State University Police Services at 814-863-1111.
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University Office of Global Programs | The Pennsylvania State University |
410 Boucke Building, University Park, PA 16802 Phone: 814-865-7681 - Fax: 814-865-3336