Information for Parents
Thank you for supporting your student's decision to study abroad! No other educational experience offers such lifelong returns, vocationally or academically, and the time abroad is bound to be a pivotal moment of personal development.The UWSP Office of International Education (OIE) is delighted that your student has accepted the challenge and opportunity of studying abroad. We hope that you are excited about the decision as well! This page is designed to give you an overview of the planning and decision making needed to make the study abroad experience work as smoothly as possible. We hope your student will share the information we give them with you, and we urge you to read through the materials carefully.
OIE staff do our best to ensure that all major program details are in place before your student departs. We assist each student as much as possible, but the responsibility for preparation ultimately belongs to the student. Here are some key information items and some tips:
Health Information and Insurance
ImmunizationsUWSP Health Services will hold a session on campus to explain the recommendations and procedures for obtaining immunizations if any are recommended for your student’s destination(s). The Center for Disease Control maintains a website of current worldwide immunization recommendations (www.cdc.gov). Non-UWSP students should consult with their campus health provider or private physician.
PrescriptionsStudents who need prescription medications should take along an adequate supply with written instructions from a physician. The instructions are in case of emergency. Prescription medications should be transported in their original packaging at all times. Students should contact their medical insurance providers to determine coverage for prescriptions and payment options while abroad.
InsuranceThe UW System requires students to purchase health insurance for studying abroad, and each year System negotiates a group policy that is as comprehensive and affordable as possible. This coverage is included in our program costs. The current required policy is administered by CISI-Cultural Insurance Services International. But please note: Overseas hospitals and clinics will normally expect payment upon receipt of services. Your student will need to keep all receipts and medical notes given to them overseas as these will be needed for completion of CISI claim forms and reimbursement. Your student will also receive information on how to set up an online account with CISI, titled “my CISI: Participant Portal.”
UWSP does not provide travel cancellation insurance. Please feel free to purchase a policy if you prefer.
Passports and VisasIt is the student’s responsibility to obtain a passport. Passport applications are available in the OIE and at the Portage County Clerks Office. We strongly recommend that students obtain passports as soon as possible to avoid delays, complications, and extra fees. Detailed guidance on the passport application process is available elsewhere on this website. Passport fees and associated expenses are not included in program fees.
Some countries require student visas for study abroad participants. Visa applications typically take six weeks to process and must be submitted with a passport. OIE will provide detailed guidance to your student when a visa is required. That said, your student is responsible for following these instructions and doing so within the established timelines. Failure to do so may jeopardize your student's ability to study abroad. Visa fees and associated expenses are not included in program fees.
Students who already possess a valid passport should check the expiration date to make sure their passport is valid for at least six months after their program’s return date. If it is not, they will need to renew their passport before departure.
Academic Enrollment & Transfer of CreditsCurrent semester enrollment: All semester abroad students are required to maintain full-time academic status. Course credits will vary by program (3-18). If you need an Enrollment Verification Statement for insurance purposes, students will be able to print one from their accesSPoint account.
Enrollment following study abroad: Course registration at UWSP takes place in November for the following spring and winterim terms and in April for the summer and fall terms. Students must pay a $100 registration deposit for the term after study abroad or a “hold” is put on their registration. They will then be able to register online according to regular UWSP procedures. If students wait to register upon return to campus, course selection is greatly reduced and they may incur a late enrollment fee. Students who will graduate upon return should complete graduation paperwork at UWSP prior to departure.
Transfer of credits: After completing a study abroad program, non-UWSP students must have an official transcript sent from UWSP to their home institution in order to transfer credits. Due to privacy laws, only the student can request a transcript. The request can be made on-line at www.uwsp.edu/regrec/Pages/default.aspx. Students should consult with their home Admissions or Registration Office prior to departure to confirm what degree requirements the program courses will fulfill.
Payment for Study AbroadThe study abroad contract your student signed includes a suggested payment schedule. It is the student’s responsibility to keep up with payments. No billing reminders will be sent. If you will be making the payments, make checks payable to “UWSP Office of International Education” and send them directly to the OIE office. Please include on the check the student’s name, UWSP student ID number, program name and term. Unfortunately we are not set up to process credit or debit card payments.
Financial Aid: Students receiving financial aid must attend to all disbursement of funds procedures before departure from the U.S. Financial aid arrangements are the student’s responsibility. We advise parents to make sure all steps have been followed.
Please consult the Financial Aid Office website for procedures.
Non-UWSP students should not assume their grants and loans will automatically transfer to UWSP. Their campus financial aid office must approve a Consortium Agreement in order for that to take place. If they are refused, students must apply for admission and financial aid at UWSP.
Financial aid for the year following study abroad: Students who want financial aid for the academic year following study abroad may be required to apply while outside the country. Academic year program participants may file via the internet after January 1.
**If a student applies for financial aid with the intention of studying abroad and does not go abroad, the UWSP Office of Student Financial Aid and OIE must be notified and the aid amount will be adjusted. Students who subsequently decide to attend another college or university must return any financial aid funds that they may have received through UWSP. Failure to do so is fraud and may result in federal prosecution.
During the time abroad, parents often transfer funds to students’ bank accounts that are accessible through ATMs and can be monitored via the internet.
Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards are all widely accepted—but much of Europe is requiring a “chip and PIN” card rather than the magnetic strip card. Legally, business agreements are supposed to ensure that U.S. citizens can use the magnetic strip credit card outside the U.S., but sometimes local store clerks will refuse to accept a magnetic strip card. Prior to departure, you may want to obtain a supplementary credit card for your student or co-apply for a credit card with your student. Credit cards can be used to obtain cash advances while abroad. To avoid interest charges, credit the account before departure with the amount you and your student have agreed upon.
Debit Cards: ATM debit cards can be used for cash withdrawals in most destinations. Check with your financial institution for any fees or restrictions—AND PROVIDE THE BANK WITH THE DATES AND COUNTRIES IN WHICH THE CREDIT/DEBIT CARDS WILL BE USED. Also, by adding your name to your student’s debit/checking account or opening a joint account, you can deposit money as needed.
Flight Arrangements: UW system policy mandates that all students use Fox World Travel to book their international flights. OIE will provide the students with a flight information sheet in the months before departure. This information sheet will have the departure and return dates and times as well as the contact information for Fox World Travel. Any travel outside the program dates (which we refer to as "deviations" from the program) will be at the student’s own expense. Deviations are negotiated on a case-by-case basis and allowed only with the permission of the OIE Director.
Packing: Students should use lightweight, sturdy luggage and pack lightly enough to be able to carry all of their luggage for several city blocks. In most countries there is no stigma attached to being seen repeatedly in the same outfit. Students should take a small number of versatile clothing items and a small supply of toiletries that can be replenished abroad. Students with contact lenses, however, must bring enough lenses and solution to last the duration of their stay. In most locations bedding is supplied, but it’s a good idea to bring at least one towel.
Calling home: Students may not be able to call home immediately upon arrival in the host country. They may need to catch a bus, be guided through arrival/orientation formalities or move into a housing situation where access to a phone is limited. We advise asking your student to call within three-four days of arrival. Students often purchase cell phones in their site countries. This appears to be a good option but there is often a charge on the cell account for incoming calls. Several U.S. phone companies have international plans. Past program participants and parents have recommended this type of arrangement as a means of guaranteeing regular family contact and controlling expenses.
Computers: Many students take their laptops or notebook computers. We find that they rarely regret having done so—but we remind everyone NOT to leave such valuable items unattended, even in their place of residence!
Visits from Family/Friends: We encourage family and friends to visit students while abroad, but each student’s first priority is to attend classes. Students are not excused to spend time with guests instead of attending classes or required field trips. Guests are welcome to visit lectures with the instructor’s permission, and students are free to entertain guests when not in class or on required field trip.
Emotional Matters: All students experience some degree of culture shock when studying abroad. You are more likely to hear from your student during low periods and to hear more bad news than good. A brief period of disappointment, homesickness or depression is a normal part of the study abroad experience. Call OIE if you are concerned about the welfare of your student. We can contact on-site program representatives to determine if any action should be taken or to give you additional information.
Alcohol: Eighteen is the drinking age in most foreign countries. Leaders do not tell students they cannot drink, but if the behavior of any student becomes a detriment to the group or the reputation of UWSP, students may be reprimanded and/or removed from the program.
Withdrawing from study abroadPlease review the refund policies for your student’s program. There are non-refundable deposits and, because international travel often requires pre-departure payments, the closer we are to the date of departure the more difficult it is to secure refunds from international partners. If a student withdraws from the program after departure, there is no refund. In addition, financial aid funds may need to be repaid
Once abroad, participants rarely withdraw from their programs. But if your student is expressing a desire to return home, they must speak to their program leader and contact OIE. Many problems can be resolved without returning home. Although withdrawal is in rare cases the best option for the student, we ask you to consider carefully all aspects of the situation (personal, academic and financial) before advising your student to return to the U.S. Before a withdrawal is considered official, the student must inform OIE in writing. Be aware that the withdrawal may be recorded on your student’s transcript if it occurs after the program has begun.
If you have questions, please call or visit the OIE to speak with a member of our staff. We hope that you and your student truly have a great experience with study abroad!