Office of Study Abroad and Study Away Programs

Frequently Asked Questions by Parents

Studying abroad can be an anxiety producing adventure - in a good way - for both young adults and parents.  It is an opportunity for your son/daughter to learn about solid deadlines, money management, managing health issues, insurance, visas and a wide array of other basic life skills.  It is important to talk with your son/daughter and ask them questions first.  They should know the answers or be able to find them through a little research and inquiry.  It is recommended that you ask your son/daugher to share with you a copy of their program handbook.  This is a valuable resource for students and parents alike. Learn together.

The following questions represent a few of the most frequently asked questions by parents of students planning to study abroad. Most other information as well as general FAQs can be found on our main pages.

What are the program dates?

Program dates change slightly each semester. Exact dates are set by the hosting program, not Clark University.  They may start or end earlier than the Clark semester, and they will most likely have different break/vacation times. Please refer to a copy of your student's admission letter from the program or program handbook for specific start and end dates. It is important to adhere to program rules and regulations, and that students be present ("sit") for all exams before departing for home.  Occasionally "retake" exams are available and may be administered several weeks after the regular exam period.  Plan summer jobs and other commitments carefully.

What about travel arrangements?

Clark students generally make their own travel arrangements. Some host programs offer advice or airport pick up service.  Refer to the program handbook or the host university's web site for more information.  Detailed information is often not available at the time of application but will be provided after admission.

Students who arrive earlier than the scheduled arrival date are responsible for arranging their own lodging and local travel, and must make arrangements to meet the group in the designated location. It is important that your son/daughter keep their host program informed about any alternate travel plans.

Many students take advantage of the lower rates offered at study abroad travel agencies such as:

  • STA Travel  Here, students can also order the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which gives them discounts on flights, accommodation, and in-country attractions.
  • Student Universe

A few Clark-affiliated program providers offer group flights. If this option exists, we strongly encourage that your student take advantage of the opportunity. Rates are typically lower. Students travel together and are met at the airport. More information will be provided by the host provider.

Whether students travel independently or in a group, we ask that they keep Study Abroad Office and the host institution notified of their flight schedule.

A few other notes:

Passports - Updated passport photocopies are due at the time of application. It is the responsibility of each student to obtain or update a passport for international travel. Passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the student's return date. To find out how to order or update a Passport, visit U.S. Department of State - Passport.  Passports applications may be expedited at an extra cost. Passports should be obtained or updated well before submitting the study abroad application as passport information is required to begin the process..

Visas - Visas cannot be applied for before being admitted to the study abroad program. Students are responsible for obtaining their own visa. Guidelines for obtaining a visa for each program are generally provided by the host program.  You may also refer to the embassy website of the host country for visa processing times, costs and requirements.

Ticket Purchase - Most immigration policies require proof of a round-trip ticket, but you may want to check with the host country consulate to see if a round-trip ticket is required. If you do purchase a round-trip ticket, check on flight change fees and policies with the airline before purchasing.

More information on traveling abroad is available in the Clark Study Abroad Handbook, emailed to all students shortly after acceptance into their program.

How is a student billed while studying abroad?  How can payment be made?

For Clark-Affiliated Study Abroad Programs (except the CAPA London Program), students are billed for Clark tuition. They are billed separately by the host program for housing and board, if applicable. Many students do their own cooking while abroad and will need to plan to have funds to purchase food. Visit our pages on Cost, Aid & Scholarships for more information on costs and billing. If your son/daughter receives financial aid or a scholarship at Clark, they must make an appointment with the Financial Aid Office the semester before they study abroad.  It is important to understand the timing of payments and distribution of funds. Students are also billed a one-time $1000 administrative fee.

Will there be unanticipated costs?

Yes!  Students should always be prepared for unanticipated costs.  Independent travel, personal expenses (beyond typical meal expenses), supplies/books, plane tickets, insurance, passport/visa applications and any departure taxes are not covered by Clark's International Programs Fee. These expenses vary from program to program. and from person to person.  Book costs are usually significantly less than at Clark because most overseas institutions/programs provide the texts at low cost or use a more extensive library reserve system.

Student service fees (such as gym membership, student activity fees, student club fees, etc.) are not part of the International Programs Fee and will not be charged by Clark as normal. Instead, these fees are due to the host university or host program as needed. Typically, these fees can be paid on-site by the student depending on what the student is interested in.

Some wireless and internet charges are covered by the program, while others may be an additional charge. Wireless/internet access may be slower than at Clark. Bedding, linens, and apartment supplies are also usually provided by the host institution/program; where they are not, the host institution will generally offer a bedding pack for a small fee.

Some of our partner organizations provide additional "optional" excursions that are not a part of the regular academic program. These optional excursions can be bought by the student on-site, and usually involve group travel to some local and international destinations at the end of the semester (example: a group travel trip to Thailand as an optional excursion on the Murdoch, Australia program). These excursions are not included in the International Programs Fee and are not endorsed or administered in any way by Clark University. All fees are paid directly to the host provider(s). Any cancellations or refunds are therefore at the student's discretion.

Are there scholarships/funding available to help with international travel expenses?

Clark offers a limited number of scholarships for study abroad, as well as information on outside funding opportunities. Program providers such as Augsburg, CAPA, CIEE, CET and SFS may also offer scholarship opportunities for applicants. We cannot stress enough the importance of looking into funding opportunities very early - a year or two before studying abroad. Many scholarship applications are due well before the Clark study abroad application.

Clark is committed to equal access in study abroad and the belief that no student should be barred from a study abroad program because of financial limitations. We will try to work with your student and the Office of Financial Assistance as much as possible before departure to help identify funding opportunities.

Where will my son/daughter live?

Each program features different housing arrangements. Programs may offer dormitory, suite/apartment-style housing on campus, off-campus housing, or home stays. When possible, there is an attempt to integrate students with host country nationals or with other international students. We believe this scenario allows for more cross-cultural contact and better adaptation in the long-run.

What will he/she eat?

Depending on the arrangements of your student's program, he/she might be eating meals with their host family, cooking in apartment kitchens, or taking meals in the university restaurants/cafeterias/pubs. There are typically no meal plans (or limited meal plans) at host universities abroad.

How can we stay in contact student?

Students typically receive their address and phone number (if applicable) shortly before departure. Check personal cell phone plan policies for international calls. Many students elect to purchase an inexpensive cell phone abroad upon arrival. Arrange "phone dates" through email, use email itself, or use internet phone providers like Skype to make free international phone calls computer-to-computer. Prior to departure, you may want to list contact numbers and arrange a family "protocol" for getting in touch in case of emergency. (To find contacts for overseas programs, click here).

The first few days after arrival can be quite hectic; students will be very busy moving into their apartment/flat/host family, getting acquainted, meeting new people, and taking part in orientation activities. Although we advise students that establishing communication is one of the first steps upon arrival, don't be surprised if you don't hear from your student right away. It can often be difficult to access email and phones directly upon arrival.

Can I visit my son/daughter abroad?

Visiting your student while they are abroad can be a wonderful experience for the student, family or friends. We encourage you to visit your student either during a designated break or after the program's end. During the program, students are busily engaged in coursework, program activities and other commitments. Family visits can cause time conflicts for students and interrupt the focus of their cultural immersion.