Parent FAQs

Application Process

What is the application process?

Applications for ISA programs can be submitted by clicking on the Apply Now link on the ISA website. Students will submit a non-refundable $200 deposit and will be prompted to print out a one page supplement which must be signed by a home university advisor or Study Abroad Office. The supplement page, as well as an official transcript from each university attended, needs to be submitted to ISA. Some programs require additional application materials. Please refer to the Admissions Page and the individual program section of the ISA website for details.

Application materials may arrive separately (and in any order) and do not have to be sent all together. However, applications will not be evaluated until all materials have been received.

A paper application can also be downloaded from the ISA website and mailed to ISA along with the $200 deposit, official transcript, and other additional application materials (if applicable). Students can also scan and e-mail the paper application to the relevant program manager.

For details on the application process for ISA Internships and ISA Service-Learning programs, please visit the Internships and Service-Learning Apply Now page.

What do students need to do at their home university in order to study abroad with ISA?

ISA encourages students to work closely with their home university's Study Abroad Office and their academic advisor when deciding on a program and selecting classes. A signature from the home university is required on the ISA application supplement for participation in an ISA program.

The home university may be able to provide resources for scholarship opportunities and/or have a distinct approval process for students to follow before allowing participation in an off-campus program. Students need to work with their home university to determine how credits taken abroad will transfer, and also, if they are able to use their financial aid (if applicable) on their ISA study abroad program.

What are the due dates for the programs?

Each program has its own application due date and final forms and payment due date. Please visit the following Prices and Dates pages for ISA Programs, ISA Internships, and ISA Service-Learning to view the specific due dates for your program of choice.

ISA Student Portal and Resources Before Departure

What is the ISA Student Portal?

All students have access to a password protected online account after they complete their initial online ISA application. Students can view the status of their application and submit their additional required application materials electronically through this account.

After students are accepted into an ISA program, they can find and complete all their post-acceptance documents through their ISA Student Portal. This is also where they find their invoice and payment instructions (if applicable).

How can I access the ISA Student Portal?

ISA encourages students to share their ISA Student Portal log-in information with their parents. While we can't provide you with your student's username and password, you can access their Student Portal here if they share their log-in information with you.

What resources will my student receive prior to departure?

After the final forms and payment due date, students will have access to their ISA Online Orientation in their ISA Student Portal. The Online Orientation covers topics such as Health and Safety, what to pack, money, communications, what to expect while abroad, etc. Students should keep a close eye on their ISA Student Portal, as that is where they will find all of their post-acceptance documents, payment information, housing assignments, final arrival information, etc. All program information will be sent directly to the student via email and the ISA portal.

Approximately 2-3 weeks prior to the program start date, students will receive their final packet information through their ISA portal, including a participant contact list, housing list, flight list, tips on academic success at their host university (if applicable), and a final letter regarding airport pick-up with a preparation checklist.

Who can my student and I contact with questions?

For ISA programs, please contact the relevant Program Manager for any questions on admissions, forms, payments, or financial aid. Please contact the relevant Site Specialist for questions on housing, visas, academics, or general questions about life abroad. Contact information can be found through the above links or in your student's ISA portal.

For ISA Internship and Service-Learning Programs, please contact the relevant Program Manager with any questions.

Payment and Financial Aid

Where can students access the invoice or receipt for their program?

Students can generate a program invoice and review their payment history in the ISA Student Portal, under the Payments and Charges section. If the home university will pay ISA directly, the Payments and Charges section will indicate this. Otherwise, payment is due to ISA by the final forms and payment due date.

What forms of payment does ISA accept? Can we pay online?

ISA accepts credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express), personal check, cashier's check, or money order. Payment cannot be accepted over the phone, however payment can be made online via the ISA Student Portal or by submitting the ISA Credit Card Authorization Form. Please see the Payment Methods section of our website for a full list of payment options.

What if the student is on financial aid?
ISA accepts financial aid from U.S. universities upon receipt of the ISA Verification of Award (available once accepted) and the good faith payment. Please refer to the Paying With Financial Aid section of our website for more detailed information on the different payment options if the student is on financial aid.

Are there scholarships available?

Yes. ISA offers scholarships and there are many outside study abroad scholarships that students can apply for as well. Click here to learn more about the different scholarship opportunities available.

Does ISA have payment plans available?

Yes. To arrange a payment plan, please contact your student's Program Manager or FinancialAid@studiesabroad.com prior to the payment due date. There is a $150 fee and payment installments will be arranged, with the final payment due no later than two weeks prior to the start date of the program.

Does ISA charge late fees?

If the program is not paid in full by the Final Forms and Payment due date, a late fee of $150 may be assessed. For students on financial aid, a minimum good faith payment is required by the Final Forms and Payment due date in order to guarantee a student's placement in the program. The required good faith payment amounts can be found here.

If a student participates in an academic year program, does he/she have to pay for the entire year all at once?

In order to receive the discounted year price (versus the sum of the two semester prices), the academic year needs to be paid in full by the Final Forms and Payment due date. If paying with financial aid, there is a special good faith payment due for the year program by the due date.

What's included in the program price?

Please refer to the "What's Included" pages for ISA Programs, ISA Internships, and Service-Learning for a general overview of what's included in your student's program price. A site-specific list of what's included can also be found on the individual program page for each ISA program location and in your student's program contract (available in the student portal after acceptance).

How much should my student budget for expenses not included in the cost of the program?

Please refer to the Additional Expenses section of our website for estimates on what students typically spend on costs not included in the ISA program price.

If a student withdraws, will he/she receive a refund?

For students participating in an ISA or ISA Service-Learning program, please refer to the ISA Cancellation Policy. Please note that the ISA Cancellation Policy does not apply for ISA Internships programs. Internship students should reference the ISA Internships Cancellation Policy.

Insurance

Is insurance included in the program?

A Blanket Accident and Sickness Policy is included in all programs for the official program dates (as listed on the ISA website). Coverage can be extended before or after a program, up to four weeks total. Students can extend their insurance for $25 per week by contacting their Program Manager.

A full description of coverage and claim information can be viewed here.

We recommend that all program participants maintain comprehensive health insurance while abroad. This is particularly important if you have any pre-existing conditions, but is also beneficial if you have an injury or illness while abroad and require further treatment upon your return home. Consult with your current insurance provider to confirm coverage policies while traveling abroad.

Passport

Does my student need a passport to participate?

Yes, all students need a passport. ISA recommends applying for one as soon as possible, as it may take up to 8 weeks to process.

What if the passport expires shortly after the program end date?

ISA recommends renewing the passport as soon as possible. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the end date of a student's program.

How can my student apply for a passport?

Please reference the Passport Info section of our website for links for information on how to apply for, renew, or replace a U.S. passport.

Visas

Is a visa required for the program?

Many ISA programs do require a visa. Visa rules vary depending on the program location and the length of the program. Please note that if a visa is required, students are responsible for securing this on their own. Please refer to the country's consulate website for details and contact the relevant Site Specialist if you have any questions. Each student also has access to a detailed "Visa Information and Responsibilities" form in their student portal after acceptance. Students should carefully read over this form for details on the visa requirements for their specific program.

For programs that require an official enrollment letter for visa purposes, the letter will be mailed to the student's permanent address. It is important for family to watch for these in the mail, as they are very difficult and costly to replace.

Does ISA offer a visa processing service?

ISA offers a visa service for select Spanish consulates; students studying in Spain should contact their ISA Site Specialist for more information.

Booking Airfare

Are there any resources available for booking flights?

Please refer to Helpful Resources and Airfare Resources sections of the ISA website. Students should also consult the "How to Book Your Flight Form" in their ISA Student Portal (available after acceptance into their program) for help finding airfare.

Students should not book their flights prior to their official acceptance into their program. ISA recommends that students not purchase non-refundable airfare tickets. Should students choose to purchase airfare that is non-refundable, ISA cannot be held responsible to reimburse the cost of the airfare or cover change fees should the ticket need to be changed for any reason, including program date changes made by ISA or the host university.

What days should the student book their flight for?

Students need to reference the "How to Book Your Flight Form" in their ISA Student Portal to be sure of travel dates and arrival times, as it varies by program. Please have your student contact their ISA Program Manager or Site Specialist if there is still any confusion after reviewing the "How to Book Your Flight Form."

Students must arrive on the specified arrival day, during the pre-arranged pick up times, in order to have ISA airport pickup. Most intensive month programs do not include airport pickup; however, please refer to your student's program contract to confirm this detail. Students can usually arrange private pickup for an additional cost if not arriving during pickup times or if their program does not include airport pickup.

On-site orientation meetings are mandatory and thus deviation from the ISA program dates is not permissible in most cases. Please contact the relevant Program Manager with any questions.

Packing Abroad

What should my student pack for his/her program abroad?

Your student should reference his/her online orientation through their ISA Student Portal as there is a packing section specifically for the student's program they are participating in. This orientation is made available directly after the final forms and payment deadline for the student's specific program. ISA will inform the student when this information is available in their portal.

Arrival On-Site and Staying In Touch

How will I know my student has arrived?

We strongly encourage students to call their loved ones upon arrival, and ISA encourages family and friends to tell them to do the same. It is a good idea for students to travel with calling cards or a cell phone so they can contact you or ISA should they encounter any delays, and to confirm their arrival in their final destination city. If they do not contact you right away, be assured that many students have orientation activities upon arrival that could delay their phone call or e-mail.

What can I expect from my student once they arrive on-site?

Everyone reacts to living in another country in different ways. Some students experience heavy culture shock, some have a hard time integrating right away, and some become so engrossed in their experience that they do not stay in close contact with friends/family back home. Family and friends are encouraged to be there for the student should they need support, and to also give them the freedom to experience the site where they are living. Please know that students may not be in contact as often as you are used to.

How can I stay in touch with my student throughout their stay?

Luckily, it is very easy now to stay in touch with the availability of the internet and online calling all over the world. Many students also use Skype, WhatsApp, or other messaging services to communicate with their families while abroad. It is a good idea for you and your student to set up messaging accounts and decide on a communication plan before departure from the U.S.

Students should not rely on having internet in their living accommodations, and if they do, remember that internet connections abroad are often much slower and less reliable than in the U.S. All ISA offices have computers that students can use, in addition to the internet caf├ęs found around most cities. Keep in mind that emails and letters are a great way to help participants with any culture shock that they may be experiencing.

Courses Abroad and Credit Transfer

How do classes transfer back to my student's home university?

This is completely up to the home university, so students should work with their home university prior to departure to ensure they know how the credits will transfer upon their return to the U.S. ISA will provide the home university with the transcript from the host university and a translation (if applicable) with the suggested grading equivalencies, based off the typical American grading system. If course syllabi are needed, please contact the Site Specialist for the specific program.

Issues Abroad

If my student has an issue during their time abroad, what should I do?

Please encourage your student to contact the ISA staff on-site as they are there to help them resolve any issues.

Sending Money

Can I send my student money through ISA?

Depending on the site, ISA may provide a moderate emergency loan for a fee. This is not to be used unless the situation is urgent, and we encourage you to talk to your student before they depart about budgeting and safe money handling while abroad. It is also a good idea to set up a bank account where you can transfer money to your student should they need it. Students should reference the "Money" section of their online orientation (available after the program's final forms and payment deadline) for useful tips on money and banking while abroad.

Reverse Culture Shock and Returning from Abroad

What can I expect from my student who recently returned from studying abroad?

Keep in mind that regardless of the length of time spent abroad, students sometimes experience some discomfort with family, friends and surroundings upon their return. Life at home has moved on while they were away, and they may feel a little out of place while trying to readjust. Additionally, the student has grown and changed in a way that is different from his or her peers. Some students may find this change difficult to explain and understand. This is called "reverse culture shock" and parents are encouraged to be aware of these re-entry feelings.

Students can contact ISA or their university study abroad office to learn about ways to handle re-entry issues, to stay involved in international education, and/or to share their experiences with other students. These are great ways to readjust to life at home.

Transcripts

When will the transcript from the program be available?

Depending on the host university, transcripts can take 2-3 months to arrive in Austin. ISA Austin issues a cover letter, which includes a translation of course titles (if applicable), the number of hours of instruction for each course, the language level for each course (if applicable), the language of instruction for each course, and a note as to whether the courses were "regular" university courses (with local students of the host country) or "special" courses specifically designed for international students. The cover letter also offers a grading scale reccomendation.

ISA sends both the cover letter and original transcript to the student's home university. A copy of the transcript along with a tracking number is also sent to the student's permanent address. Students can check the status of their transcript on the Transcripts page of the Alumni section of our website.

How can my student request additional transcripts?

Please reference the Additional Transcript Request page.

Housing

What housing options are available?

There are many different housing options and they vary from site to site. Please reference the housing section under each program on the website for details. Please contact the relevant ISA Site Specialist for details regarding specific housing questions.

When will the housing deposit be refunded (if applicable)?

Housing deposits are typically refunded between 6 and 8 weeks after the program ends, once it is confirmed with the resident staff that no damages have been made at the housing accommodations. This timeline cannot be guaranteed due to several factors, including holidays abroad. ISA does strive to return the housing deposits as soon as possible.

What happens if my property is lost, stolen, or damaged in ISA housing?

ISA is not responsible for any damages/losses that occur at ISA housing. Residents are fully responsible for any damaged, stolen, or lost property belonging to them or their housing facility. Charges for damages to an ISA housing facility may be deducted from a student's housing deposit (where applicable) or added to the student's ISA account. ISA strongly encourages that students arrange homeowner's or renter's insurance to cover belongings during their time abroad.

Requesting Information For Tax Purposes

My student's U.S. university issues a 1098-T form for tax purposes. Will ISA and/or my student's host university overseas issue this form?

No, neither ISA nor the host university will issue Form 1098-T. Foreign universities are not required to file Form 1098-T since the student is not seeking a degree at their institution. Therefore, ISA, as a 3rd party study abroad provider acting on behalf of such foreign universities, is not required to file Form 1098-T. Although no 1098-T will be generated, these expenses are not automatically disqualified from being tax deductible.

How can I get a price breakdown of the program for tax purposes?

In order to receive a price breakdown for tax purposes, please e-mail the financial aid department, at financialaid@studiesabroad.com, with the following information:
-Student Name
-Program City
-Program Term and Year
-Subject of e-mail "This is a tuition request for tax purposes"

*Please note that if your son or daughter attends a university that has a direct billing agreement with ISA (i.e. they paid their home university directly for ISA program costs), you will need to request this information directly from your son or daughter's home university*

Are ISA program fees tax deductible?

ISA is unable to advise on the tax deductibility of program costs. However, we suggest that you use your program invoice and price breakdown to consult your tax advisor in order to determine the proper treatment or deductibility of such education expenses applicable to your personal situation.