Parents and Families

Dear parents and families:

Your student is about to embark on a journey of a lifetime, and you probably have questions about the whole process. You may want to know if your child will be safe in another country or if they will be able to adapt to new cultures or customs. Studying abroad helps empower students to become independent global citizens! Whether it's figuring out how to order at a restaurant where the menu is in an unfamiliar language or learning to conserve water and electricity where it might not be so readily available, your student will grow and develop by learning to think independently and resourcefully.

With this in mind, you can empower your student to start their study abroad journey right here at home. Encourage them to start early, and allow them to explore the process on their own. Our staff is here to help, and we will make sure that your student is ready to go abroad! The Study Abroad office has procedures in place to ensure the health and safety of your student while they are abroad, and we do our best to help students receive the best global education experience possible.

It isn’t easy being a parent of a young adult of college age – and it can be tough to draw a neat line between “helicoptering” over the student and giving them 100% independence. Studying abroad raises the stakes, as your adult child maneuvers through the student visa process prior to departure or learns their way around their new neighborhood in Costa Rica. Below are some resources and tips that can help your student make the most out of their experience abroad.  With guidance and support from you and from their Study Abroad Coordinator, we can help your student take a proactive approach to handling the program requirements -- and any challenges that may arise -- independently.


UA Study Abroad Staff

Why study abroad?

A variety of studies have shown that studying abroad improves students' experience in college and bolsters their career prospects. Students who study abroad are more likely to graduate and earn better grades. Furthermore, the skills that employers are looking for in new college graduations -- including communication skills, problem-solving skills, and flexibility/adaptability -- are the very skills that study abroad programs help students develop. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, employers want to hire individuals who can adapt to and thrive in a variety of cultural contexts. Our study abroad programs are intentionally structured to provide the crucial experiences that allow students to practice these skills. This article breaks down how studying abroad can help your student stand out.

FERPA for Parents

Although the Study Abroad office will do its best to provide you with important information regarding your student's study abroad program and our general office policies, there is certain information that cannot be released to parents. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires that students' educational records remain confidential, meaning they may not be released to anyone -- including parents, guardians, and other family members -- without the student's written consent. Students' educational records include, but are not limited to, their study abroad program application(s), their email correspondence with their study abroad coordinator, and any in-person meetings with their study abroad coordinator.

Please refer to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act page for more information on this policy.

Code of Conduct

Although your student is participating in an educational experience that is not on the University of Arizona campus, they are still required to abide by the Dean of Students Code of Conduct. Any violation of this policy, even while abroad, can result in sanctions imposed on your student including being sent home. For more information, please visit the Dean of Students Code of Conduct.

Program Types

UA Study Abroad facilitates four types of programs: faculty led, exchange, direct enroll, and third-party provider.

  • Faculty Led: These programs are organized and/or taught by UA professors and staff. Students take classes with other UA students, and participants earn direct UA credit, which means their grades are calculated into their GPA. All students pay a set program fee, regardless of residency status.
  • Exchange: Students attend one of UA's partner universities abroad for a semester or academic year, where they attend classes with a mix of local and international students. Participants pay the equivalent of UA tuition and earn transfer credit, which means their grades are not calculated into their GPA. Space on exchange programs can be limited.
  • Direct Enroll: Students attend one of UA's partner universities abroad for a semester or academic year, where they attend classes with a mix of local and international students. Students pay the host university's tuition, plus a UA registration fee. Students earn transfer credit, which means their grades are not calculated into their GPA.
  • Third-Party Provider: There are 6 UA-affiliated third-party program providers (CEA, CIEE, DIS, IAU, the Education Abroad Network [TEAN], and Semester at Sea). These programs draw students from all over the United States. Program experiences can vary significantly by provider and location. In most cases, students take classes with other U.S. students, but some programs also offer classes with a mix of local and international students. All students pay a set program fee, regardless of residency status, plus a UA registration fee. Students earn transfer credit, which means their grades are not calculated into their GPA.

Supporting and Empowering Your Student

The UA Study Abroad staff is here to help your student navigate their study abroad experience and provide them with all the necessary information to be successful.  There are also important ways that parents and families can support and empower their student throughout the process.

Before Going Abroad

  • Set reasonable expectations for communicating with your student. There are myriad ways to keep in touch with your student, including social media, apps like WhatsApp and Viber, and email.  However, keep in mind that your student is going abroad to immerse themselves in a new and exciting environment. Between classes, dong homework, participating in program activities, and exploring the local area, your student may not be as regularly available to talk with loved ones at home.
  • Encourage your student to ask questions and fully engage in the study abroad pre-departure process. Before they embark on their international adventure, students will have many opportunities to learn more about their program and host country, as well as ask any questions they may have. Encourage your student to fully engage in this process by attending all mandatory meetings, asking questions, and checking in with their study abroad advisor as necessary. It's excellent practice for being abroad!
  • Make copies of important documents. You may want to keep physical copies of any important items your student is taking abroad, such as passports, credit and debit cards, and the health insurance card provided through GeoBlue.
  • Talk with your student about what to do if and when certain challenges arise. What is the plan if your student loses their debit card? Do you have access to their financial accounts, or will your student need to have the bank's phone number to call them directly? What types of medications will your student be taking abroad, and will they need to have the medication refilled in their host country? Talking through potential scenarios can help things run more smoothly in case challenges like these arise. It can also help you feel calmer knowing that your student has a plan of action.

While Abroad

  • Understand what culture shock is -- and that your student will most likely experience it. Culture shock is a very common experience for students going abroad -- the good news is that it's temporary! The symptoms of culture shock can vary from person to person, but they all spring from the sense of discomfort and stress we feel when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar environment. You can support your student by providing a listening ear if they want to talk through their experiences. Encourage them to continue the routines or hobbies they established at home (such as knitting or photography); find ways to relieve stress (such as journaling or exercising); and connect with the people around them (such as host families or classmates). Knowing that they have your support and encouragement can help students work through culture shock and fully enjoy their host country.
  • Learn more about the country in which your student is studying. Check out books, videos, and websites about your student's host country. This can help you feel more connected to your student's experience -- and you'll know what they're talking about when they share their adventures with you!

After Returning Home

  • Support your student through their reverse culture shock. Your student has just spent a significant amount of time immersed in a different culture, and they might be seeing their home culture through different eyes. This is often referred to as "reverse culture shock." They might also miss their host country; they may want to talk extensively about their time abroad and wonder if other people can relate to their experience. Listening to your student and affirming their feelings and experiences can help them readjust to life at home.
  • Encourage your student to continue making the most of their experience. Your student may no longer be abroad, but that doesn't mean their international experience is over! There are many ways for study abroad returnees to remain engaged, such as the annual Lessons From Abroad conference and UA's Global Ambassadors program. There are also resources, such as UA Career Development, to help students talk about the importance of their international experiences with potential employers. For more possibilities, check out the Returned Students page.

Study Abroad Application Forms

As your student works through the application process, they will be asked to read and sign several forms to show they understand UA Study Abroad's policies. We've provided links to sample blank forms below. Please note that the policies may change depending on the type of program your student is participating in. For more information about the types of programs available, please see the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Billing and Payment Policies:

  • Direct Enroll Programs [ English ]
  • Faculty-Led Programs [ English ]
  • Exchange Programs [ English]
  • Third-Party Provider Programs
    • CEA, DIS, FIE, GAV, BSME, and IAU [ English ]
    • CIEE, TEAN, and Semester at Sea [ English ]
  • UA Study Abroad Site [ English ]

Withdrawal Policies:

UA Administrative Removal Policy [ English ]

UA Risk and Release Agreement [ English ]

Health and Safety

UA Study Abroad has a full-time staff member who works closely with our various partners (including UA faculty and international institutions) to help ensure the health and safety of all our students while abroad. All faculty members leading a study abroad program are required to undergo health and safety training. We also work to provide important information to students: in addition to the resources available on our website, all study abroad students are required to attend a health and safety session that prepares them for any issues that may arise in their host country. Students have access to 24/7 support from UA Study Abroad, and we proactively monitor health and safety situations around the world throughout the year. If you are concerned about your student's health and/or safety while abroad, please do not hesitate to contact the UA Study Abroad office.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is my student going to afford studying abroad?

The UA Study Abroad office is committed to making study abroad accessible for all our students. With some advance planning and research, studying abroad can be quite affordable. The first step is to check out our available programs and determine which one is the best fit, both academically and financially. Depending on their program, students may be able to use the Pell Grant, the University Grant, subsidized and unsubsidized loans, and/or scholarships to pay for their study abroad program. For more information, check out the Financial Information page.

Can I access my student's study abroad application?

Students' study abroad application(s) are protected by FERPA, which means that information cannot be released without written consent from the student. You are always welcome to reach out to your student to gather more information about their application. If your student has a current and valid Authorization for Release of Information form on file with the UA Office of the Registrar, study abroad staff members are permitted to share application information.

Can I contact my student's study abroad coordinator?

You are welcome to contact the UA Study Abroad office. We can talk with you about general program information, policies, and requirements. However, please bear in mind that we cannot provide information that is protected by FERPA, including information that is specific to your student (including information about applications, financial aid, and advising appointments).

Where can I learn more about the available study abroad programs?

You can take a look at all UA study abroad programs on the Program Search site.

Where can I find out how much the program costs?

Each program page has a link to the program budget. Simply click on the program name on the Program Search site, then click on the blue Budget link in the right-hand corner of the program page.

How are students charged?

All charges are posted on the student's bursar's account. Students can view their charges through their UAccess account.

When are students charged?

The UA Study Abroad office posts charges in line with regular tuition. For those dates and deadlines, check out the bursar's website.

My student needs to withdraw from their program. What should they do?

In order to officially withdraw, your student should do two things: (1) Notify their study abroad coordinator via email as soon as possible, and (2) Complete and submit the Withdrawal Form. Your student will be held to the withdrawal policy forms they signed as part of their study abroad application. Please see the "Study Abroad Application Forms" tab for more information.