Education Abroad

Family Resources

Studying abroad can be a complicated process for students and without the support and assistance from a student's support circles, it can cause the process to be more stressful. All the information below will help assist in increasing your knowledge to best support your student who is going abroad.

Student Privacy Considerations:

While it can occasionally be frustrating to parents, the St. Cloud State Education Abroad Office must abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This sometimes mean that we cannot divulge student academic, financial, enrollment, or non-emergency medical information to parents. Whenever possible, we encourage you to shift questions for all aspects of their education abroad program to your student. It will be an opportunity for growth for the student and can often help them navigate the rest of their college experience. Find out more information about student educational privacy rights at St. Cloud State University.

Some outside resources to help learn more include:

Academics

Programs

There are two types of programs that students could be completing abroad. 

  • Short Term programs
    • Most short-term programs are led by St. Cloud State University faculty. This means that a faculty member has designed the program to fit to the course the student will take. Faculty also travel with the group throughout the duration of the program.
  • Semester-long programs
    • Most semester-long programs are set up where students will go to another institution abroad by enrolling into one of our partner universities. Students will still be considered a St. Cloud State student but they will be taking classes at the institution abroad. At these universities, there is an international student office that will conduct an orientation after arrival and will continue to be of assistance to SCSU students and other international students.
    • Some semester long programs could have a faculty director who would teach some, if not all, of the courses on the program. One of those programs would be the St. Cloud State at Alnwick program at the Alnwick Castle in England. 

Credits Abroad

Credits taken abroad will be applied to your academic record as either a major, minor, elective, or general education requirement. Prior to departure, students will fill out an Academic Approval Form with their advisers and the Education Abroad Office. This form will let students know how credits and which courses will transfer back to St. Cloud State. If well-planned in advance, students should be able to use a majority of their credits earned abroad towards graduation. (In the past, there have been situations where students have failed to work with their adviser and had to complete items post-program that delayed registration for the next term. Please be sure to remind your student to schedule appointments with their adviser to ensure their credits will transfer back and count towards graduation.) Courses come back as pass/fail. While this will not affect their GPA, it will affect their credit completion rate which does also affect graduation. 

Foreign Language Requirement

St. Cloud State offers both language and non-language based programs. If the student participates on a program where English is not the native language most programs will have an introductory language course as part of the program requirement or an elective course that are strongly suggested that the student take while abroad. 

Funding

Financial Aid

Be sure your student is checking with the Financial Aid Office as soon as possible because in some cases students believe they have financial aid availability but find out later that they do not have any left for the year. Go to the Student Registration & Financial Services website to be as informed as you can be on the financial aid process. The problem of lack of funding is especially true for summer programs. Financial aid begins in the Fall semester and the final term is summer.  In many cases the student does not have eligibility for the summer because the student has used the entire federal financial aid awarded for the prior fall and spring. Be sure your student fully understands this process.

Scholarships

If your student is currently receiving any scholarships, help them to see if there are any restrictions in using them for a study abroad program. Studying abroad will earn them academic credit at St. Cloud State so students have not had many issues in the past with using already awarded scholarships. Students have access to apply for several different scholarships to help offset costs for studying abroad. The Huskies Scholarship platform is available at St. Cloud State for them apply through and they can also find more on our website

Payment

The entire program needs to be paid prior to departure. This means that your student needs to have accepted their financial aid award through e-services prior to departure. If the student does not have enough financial aid to cover the entire cost of the program (including tuition), the student will need to pay for the remaining costs (i.e. the costs not covered by financial aid) prior to leaving on the program in other ways. 

Please see cancellation policies if needed.

Health, Safety and Security

SCSU and CIS considers the health and safety of their education-abroad participants to be a top priority. We make every effort to stay up-to-date with the changing situations throughout our world, especially with regard to health.

The Center for International Studies enrolls all students in the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP). This service, run by the U.S. Department of State, sends students notifications while traveling if there are any warnings or issues while abroad in the location that they are registered for. 

Should the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issue travel warnings we will keep our students well informed and make sure they are prepared in their location. 

If there is an emergency while abroad:

  1. Call the SCSU Public Safety Switchboard: (320) 308-3333
  2. Identify yourself as the family member of a St. Cloud State student learning abroad; give them the name of your student and the program they are participating in.
  3. Give the operator your contact information.
  4. Tell the operator what is wrong and who else has been contacted.
  5. Respond to any questions and listen carefully to any instructions.

* Whether this is or is not a true emergency, please keep in mind: The St. Cloud State Center for International Studies (CIS) staff members always welcome calls from parents and students about health, security and safety issues abroad. Public Safety on campus has the CIS teams direct contact and in an emergency will call us no matter the time of day.  

Insurance


There is an abundance of information to know and understand about health insurance. Students are required to have health insurance while abroad. 

GeoBlue Worldwide Insurance

Students are required to have medical insurance through GeoBlue Worldwide which is processed through the Education Abroad Office and is included in the program fee. Travel insurance is not part of this required insurance but if the student is interested in travel insurance to cover lost baggage or flight cancellations the student can research additional coverage such as InsureMyTrip. The medical insurance covers the student throughout the program no matter where they are. If you would like to learn more about this insurance you can learn more on the Education Abroad Page.

Country Mandated Insurance

Most programs will also require health insurance from the country the student is studying in for a semester long program. This requirement is from the countries' government and what is required will change depending on where the student is studying abroad. This insurance only covers the student when they are in said country. If the student travels during breaks to nearby countries, their GeoBlue will cover them. Students should connect with the program manager in the Education Abroad Office to learn more. 

Home Owner's Insurance

Please also check with your Home Owner's Policy to see about item coverage such as stolen or lost items. The best way to be prepared is to check prior to your student leaving.

Staying Connected

Feeling connected to your student half-way around the world can feel challenging at times. Have a conversation with your student on the best way to stay connected while they are abroad. Once students are abroad, they will have a better sense of how they can communicate back home. Students in the past have given us some suggestions on how they were able to stay connected while abroad with family and friends:

  • Phone Apps
    • Whatsapp: commonly used free app that allows for messaging, group chats, voice calls, and video calls as long as both recipients are connected to wireless internet.
    • WeChat: students traveling to China can reach out to family most easily via, another free app for messaging, voice and video calls by connecting to wi-fi.
    • Skype: a free way to keep in contact if you have a home computer with a microphone and your student has access to the same. You can each purchase a camera for the top of your computer or if you each have a Mac computer with a built-in camera, you will be able to see each other through this process. Go to www.skype.com for more details.
  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
  • Google Hangouts: If you and you and your student have a Google email account (gmail) you can use their free webcam hangout to keep in contact with your student through free video chat and/or call. 
  • Texting
    • T-mobile has free international data and calling
    • iPhones can work to text other iPhones while on WiFi

Visiting While Abroad

Families in the past have gone to visit their student while they are on a semester program. When it comes to visiting, the best advice we can give is to wait until after your student has arrived abroad and can personally tell you when it would be best to visit. Once they have confirmed their class schedule and know their school breaks, they will be better equipped to help you plan. Other things to consider:

  • Surprising them is not necessarily the best idea – Often students will have assignments and projects at random times during the semester and pulling them away from their studies could have an effect on them doing well in the course. 
  • Where to stay while visiting: Housing options for visitors depend on the program your student is on.
    • St. Cloud State at Alnwick (England) – Stay in the castle for a small fee per night dependent on the room availability is an option. Please work with your student to coordinate the stay and to inquiry about the costs. There are also hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. If you google Alnwick places to stay it will pull up those options. 
    • Other semester programs – The best option would be to ask your student to check on where to stay. There may be hostels or hotels nearby that they will have first hand knowledge of. You can also use hotel website's to find places to stay as well. 

What's Next for My Student

When your student returns home, often it can be more difficult readjusting to their life at home than adjusting to a new culture. It seems like an odd phenomenon, but it is common and can happen in different ways. Students find that after spending a semester abroad, different aspects of their life changes. Often it can be as small as going shopping at the grocery store. Below are some tips on how to help your student transition back home:

  • When asking about their experience, often it will be long-winded and it is important to hear them through. Your student will most likely want to share stories all at once. Be patient and help them to understand that you are interested in hearing about their stories but that they spent a whole semester abroad so their stories will come out when they do.
  • It is common to want your student to pick up life where they left off. Students are often a different person in subtle ways after their international experience. Talk with your student to understand the differences, and understand that it can take months for them to understand the differences in their selves. They may not like the same things they used to and may have different interests. Be open to hearing "that's not what they do in..."
  • Encourage your student to talk with the Education Abroad Office and the Career Center on campus to understand how to use the international experience and get connected again on-campus.