Study Abroad Information for Parents
The Heavener International Programs Office has developed this resource for parents, guardians, and other important people in students’ lives, in order to facilitate preparation and coordination of the study abroad experience. Please feel free to email your specific questions or call us at (352) 273-0151.
International Programs in Warrington
In 2004, the Warrington College of Business established the International Programs office to assist undergraduate business students in acquiring quality study abroad experiences to complement their academic curriculum. We are the only college at the University of Florida that has staff solely dedicated to the administration, management, and delivery of international programs, giving business students the opportunity for a relevant and personalized experience.
We provide student services over the entire span of the international experience, including program selection, academic advising, pre-departure orientations, travel planning, and re-entry advising. Our four full-time staff members are dedicated to assisting all undergraduate business students, regardless of intended program.
University of Florida International Center
The University of Florida International Center (UFIC) oversees all international programming at the University of Florida. All students must register with UFIC and complete the associated application requirements for their study abroad program. The Heavener International Programs office works extensively with UFIC to provide students with study abroad advisement, visa assistance, orientation information, transcript processing, and more.
Note: Under FERPA law, college administrators cannot release specific information about a student unless the student has provided a notarized release to the university, specifying what information should be released to parents, and including the timeframe for the authorization to remain in effect. Exceptions are made in emergency situations.
The process of studying abroad is often accompanied by a large range of emotions, ranging from joy and excitement to stress and sadness. While it is important to support your student and ensure his/ her safety, it is equally important to protect his/ her independence in navigating the challenges on his/ her own. Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts for your consideration:
- Encourage your student to study abroad.
- Let your student know that you can be reached at any time.
- Listen to frustrations with a supportive ear.
- Encourage your student to talk with host staff about issues or concerns.
- Encourage your student to follow up on important details/considerations.
- Tell your student that feeling uncomfortable is normal and okay. Focus on learning.
- Visit your student.
- Observe and discuss changes that you see in your student. Be accepting of a student’s new ideas of self. (political, dress, food)
- Tell your student what program to choose.
- Call your student everyday to check on them.
- Try and solve all his/her problems.
- Call study abroad personnel on the student’s behalf to handle issues and concerns. (unless student cannot do it him/her self).
- Get too involved.
- Reinforce expectations of customer service and a smooth experience.
- Stay with your student or take them out of class to sightsee.
- Worry about personal changes when your student returns. Changes will balance out over time.
- U.S. Department of State
- University of Florida International Center
- The Center for Global Education Study Abroad Student Handbook – Advice for Parents
Frequently Asked Questions
- How much will study abroad cost?
UF students have many study abroad programs to choose from, differing in location, length of stay, sponsoring school etc. Consequently, the cost of each study abroad experience is highly variable depending on the specific program and spending habits of the student. In general, UF programs are cheaper than third party providers, who often provide more travel services. Shorter programs have a lower end cost than semester programs, but they typically have a higher cost per day. Exchange programs are often the cheapest cost per day, since students pay UF tuition. Projected budgets are available for each program on the University of Florida International Center website. The “Budget Sheet” will appear on each program’s page.
- Do Financial Aid/Bright Futures/Pre-Paid Scholarships apply to study abroad costs?
Yes. Financial aid, Bright Futures, and Pre-Paid Scholarship do count toward the tuition costs of the program. Pre-Paid monies can also be applied to the housing costs and other program expenses.
- Are there any other scholarships available for study abroad?
Yes. Scholarships are available through the Warrington College of Business, the University of Florida International Center, and the Federal Government. Please visit our Scholarships and Financial Aid page for a listing of available funding. Scholarship application deadlines are due well in advance of the program dates. Warrington scholarship applications, for instance, are typically due March 1st (Fall/Summer) and October 1st (Spring), but scholarship deadlines vary.
- Can students take out loans to assist with study abroad financing?
Yes. There are several financial providers that offer low interest loans specifically for study abroad. If interested in one of these loans, it is suggested that the student print the budget sheet, available on the University of Florida International Center website, and visit The Office for Student Financial Affairs in Criser Hall for consultation.
- When do students become financially obligated?
For the Warrington programs, students become financially obligated 60 days before the program commences. This is done in order to reserve accommodations and personnel for the semester. There are exceptions only in extreme situations. Other programs have their own policies on financial obligation.
- When is payment due?
To reserve a placement in a study abroad program, non-refundable program fees of $250 (exchange programs) or $350 (international programs) are paid to the University of Florida International Center. Full payment for our programs is due 30 days before the program commences. Other programs have different payment schedules, but all programs will require a non-refundable program fee to apply.
- How much spending money is needed?
The amount of spending money needed depends on which expenses are covered by the program and which are not. The amount of spending money also depends largely on the lifestyle of the student. Here are some additional tips regarding finances:
- Prior to departure, create a budget separating living expenses from general spending money. You can refer to the University of Florida International Center Budget sheet for the program.
- Develop a financial plan with student addressing everyday needs and emergency needs while he /she is abroad.
- Make sure student has at least two financial instruments to pay for expenses abroad, for example, a debit card and a credit card.
- How do students get foreign currency?
When obtaining foreign currency or paying for items abroad, keep the following tips in mind:
- Students should inform their bank and/or credit card company that they will be leaving the country. Often, banks will suspect fraud when a card is used in a different country and freeze the account.
- ATM/MAC machines will offer the most advantageous exchange rates.
- Make sure the ATM card is part of an international network.
- Visa and Mastercard are usually accepted at shops and restaurants. It is highly recommended that students bring a credit card with them in case of an emergency. These cards are also a good method of payment at grocery stores and department stores.
- We do not recommend changing money through exchange bureaus as they typically have the highest conversion fees.
- We do not recommend using travelers checks as few businesses accept them and banks may charge significant fees to cash them.
- Student should make a list of all credit and ATM cards that will be used, along with the telephone number to call in the event of a loss. It is important to record the long distance telephone number as 800 numbers do not work when calling from abroad. One list should be kept with student and the other should be kept with friends and family at home.
- Is it safe to study abroad?
No program can completely guarantee safety abroad, just as no one can guarantee safety at home. We can tell you, however, that the cities where our students study are almost always statistically safer than Gainesville, Florida.
Despite the relative safety of these locations, any person in a large and unfamiliar city can be a potential target for thieves and wrongdoers. Nevertheless, the most predictive elements of a safe experience abroad are preparedness and individual behavior. Common sense and street smarts are heavily emphasized in pre-departure and orientation sessions with our students. Here are some additional resources for students and parents:
- U.S. Department of State (Travel Alerts and Warnings)
- U.S. Department of State (Safety)
- The Center for Global Education Study Abroad Student Handbook
The other issue of safety relates to student health. To ensure a safe time abroad, students need to be prepared for the entire duration of the trip, informed about what they might encounter in other countries, and knowledgeable about what to do in case of an emergency. Here are some useful tips:
- Supply student with needed medication for entire trip
- Research health information for the countries the student will visit, and get the appropriate shots and medication
- Have a general physical and dental exam while in the U.S. – gynecological checkup for women
- Pack a complete medical record and a typed copy of any prescriptions needed
- Make an emergency plan for any medical issues that may arise
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Department of State (checklist)
- What documents are required to study abroad?
In general, all students will need a passport, and most students will need a country specific visa to study in another country. Here are some tips related to travel documents:
- Double-check that your son or daughter’s passport and visa documentation are in order. Make sure student’s passport is valid for at least six months beyond end of stay.
- Make two photocopies of all travel and financial information, one for the student and one to keep at home. (passport, credit cards, bank cards, insurance, etc.)
- Encourage the use of a money belt to help keep valuables safe during the trip.
- Passport Information – U.S. Department of State
- Visa Information – U.S. Department of State
- Will all grades/credits be accepted by UF?
All study abroad credits will be accepted by UF, regardless of the program, as long as the student applied for the program through the University of Florida International Center. Grades will be applied depending on program:
- Exchange Programs: All grades earned are posted and computed into the UF GPA.
- Transfer (Third Party): Grades will be computed as transfer credit, meaning that the grade received abroad will be posted on the UF transcript but not computed in to the UF GPA.
- Heavener Programs: Some grades earned are posted and computed into the UF GPA and some are posted to the transcript but not computed in to the UF GPA.
- How long is a study abroad program?
Students can take programs of varying length, ranging from one week to an academic year in duration. The vast majority of programs offered by the Warrington College of Business run through the entire academic semester.
- Why does the university require students to have medical insurance abroad?
Student insurance packages are designed to protect the student from unforeseeable health circumstances while abroad. The medical benefits provide coverage for doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital care, or any unexpected medical emergencies.
All students who participate in an international program or an exchange program will be covered by CISI Insurance as part of their program fee. Students on other programs are required to show proof of international health and accident insurance with a minimum coverage of $200,000.00, unless the program provider carries UF insurance.
- Who is responsible for travel arrangements for the program?
Although it can vary by program, all Warrington programs require students to make their own travel plans to and from the program location. Students are typically given a time frame when to arrive.
Students are also responsible for any travel they do outside of the program. Here are few tips we give students:
- Book flight directly with airline if possible.
- Be aware of all policies associated with the travel tickets. Many providers will not cancel or change a ticket.
- Research travel costs and book flights in advance to maximize savings, but do not book travel before the academic schedule is known.
- Students may encounter travel delays and therefore should avoid booking travel close to dates of exams.
- What are the common means of transportation while abroad?
Transportation also varies by location and program, but most locations have comprehensive public transportation systems including trains, subways, and buses. Since transportation can be costly, it is important to plan transportation needs and include the cost in the student’s budget.
- Can a student study in a country without a firm grasp of the language?
Our Warrington programs accommodate every level of host language proficiency. Courses are taught in English, and there is always English-speaking support available for students. In most countries, English-speaking people are quite common and fairly easy to find. Nevertheless, students should make every effort to learn the local language. They will learn that they can actually communicate quite a bit with even just a few key phrases. Our programs also offer survival language classes aimed at equipping students with basic communication skills. Many other study abroad programs have a similar feature as part of the program.
- How can we keep in touch with the student while they are abroad?
- Students may individually purchase/rent a country specific cell phone or SIM card. There are many providers, such as Piccell Wireless, who rent and sell this equipment at a reasonable cost. (Note: international roaming fees apply when traveling outside of the host country unless a new SIM is inserted to match the location)
- International Calling Cards – Often the cheapest way to communicate over phone, but student will have to call from a landline.
- Prepaid phone – Student must pay charges before calling and refill as needed.
- Skype – Offers video and text conferencing for free and cheap computer to phone calling. Must download Skype and sign up.
Here are some additional communication tips:
- Discuss what time of day students can be reached.
- Establish a communication plan in advance.
- Contact your phone service provider to discuss best plan for international calling.
- To save on telephone communication, it may be better to set up a regular schedule for emailing, instant messaging or talking via Skype.
- How do students take care of their affairs while abroad?
Students can usually manage most of their stateside responsibilities through planning and preparation but may require coordination with parents/friends. Student and parents should plan for possible responsibilities such as:
- Renewing a drivers license
- Voter registration
- Income taxes
- Paying monthly credit card bills
- Preparing for the next semester at home school
- Select a housing option upon return
- Preparing forms to continue financial aid (FASFA)
It is beneficial for students to sign financial and medical power of attorney forms, which give a designated representative, such as a family member, the authority to speak to university representatives and/or other relevant representatives on behalf of the student.