Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can my student still study abroad considering COVID-19?
A: All information and updates related to our office's response to COVID-19, and our continuing efforts related to study abroad and the epidemic, is provided on the Office of International Education's COVID-19 Updates page. We encourage you to check it regularly.
Q: Why should my student study abroad?
A: The benefits are as broad as the world is wide. Although benefits of study abroad have been known for some time, multiple studies now back up those assertions with data.
First, there are the academic benefits. Students who participate in study abroad are shown to earn a higher GPA after returning than students who do not participate. Not only that, they graduate at an 18% higher rate. And, as they prepare to leave the university for the work world, they distinguish themselves from their peers, since only 11% of undergraduates study abroad. If they wish to go on to graduate school, 90% of study abroad participants get into their first or second choice graduate program.
Second, there are the employment benefits. The workplace of the 21st century has a large focus on globalization. In fact, 75% of employers not only demand a higher education, they also look for a global perspective. The knowledge and skill necessary to succeed in this globalized marketplace are often best achieved by thoroughly experiencing a culture beyond one's own. Universities around the world have different teaching styles, people have different lifestyles, and businesses have different models that can offer students new perspectives on familiar topics. This type of outlook can provide students an edge in the different industries in which they will work, for instance in the 23 million jobs tied to international trade in the United States.
Notably, students who participate in study abroad earn 17% more than those who do not. Putting that finding into dollar amounts, that would mean $7,500 extra per year for the typical UW-Stout graduate who earns an average $44,000 annual salary.
Finally, there are the personal benefits. A study abroad program does much more than simply prepare students for a globalized workplace. Many students find such an experience as a way to grow as a person, realize their interests, and discover what it means to be an American. This type of a program branches classroom learning out to everyday activities, leading to independent thinking, self-confidence, and a stronger intellectual or personal maturity.
Q: When is the best time for my student to study abroad?
A: Students can study abroad when it best fits their academic plan as well as financial and personal situation. All programs require students to have spent at least one semester at UW-Stout before participating, and most programs require students to be a sophomore at the time of participation. The earliest opportunity students have to study abroad is during WinTerm of their first year on a faculty-led program. For semester programs, the earliest opportunity to study abroad is during spring semester of their first year on the Experience Scotland program. We encourage students to look at the eligibility requirements for their program before applying. Depending upon the student's availability and the course structure, one semester or term may work better than another. We have found that most students study abroad between their sophomore and junior years; however, seniors study abroad as well. Students can work with a study abroad advisor and their major advisor or program director to discuss when studying abroad would best work for them.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: For each of our programs, there is a cost estimate online that outlines the estimated expenses that students can expect during their chosen program. A cost estimate is broken down into two sections: billable subtotal and non-billable subtotal. The billable subtotal, which is charged to the student’s Access Stout account, includes standard fees applicable to all programs, tuition, and a program fee (which covers various items, depending upon the program and as noted in the cost estimate). In the case of a direct enroll program, the student pays the host institution’s tuition and fees or, more commonly, a flat program fee. In the case of an exchange program, the student pays UW-Stout tuition and fees. The non-billable subtotal is paid out of pocket and can include, for example, spending money for meals on their own, trips on their own, and souvenirs.
As each program differs in costs, we recommend looking at the cost estimates for programs in which your student is interested. We also recommend looking at the Finances section on our website, to explore options from financial aid and loans to scholarships and crowdfunding sites. Finally, keep the foreign exchange rate in mind when looking at different destinations. A reputable online source to research it is Oanda.
Q: Can my student use financial aid to study abroad?
A: Cost is always a concern for prospective study abroad students, and therefore we offer many resources to make each program more affordable.
Students who are eligible for financial aid may use it to pay for study abroad programs. Their financial aid need may increase when they study abroad, so they should talk with a financial aid counselor to calculate their eligible aid amount. Every student's financial situation is different; therefore, we recommend that students meet with the Financial Aid Office to discuss their options.
The Financial Aid Office also awards an International Study Grant based on the cost estimate that is outlined for each program and financial need based on results from the student's FAFSA. Students are automatically eligible for the grant if they are a Wisconsin resident and are accepted into a UW-Stout study abroad program.
There are many scholarships and grants that students may apply for that are awarded based on a variety of factors such as financial need, diversity, location, interests, etc. The Stout University Foundation also offers scholarships that apply to study abroad programs. The application cycle is open from October to the beginning of February for the following academic year. Students are encouraged to apply each year here. If students are seeking financial assistance, they are encouraged to research their options in the Finances section of our website and apply for any opportunities for which they are eligible.
Note: If your student currently attends another university but is participating in a UW-Stout study abroad program, they may want to check with their financial aid office to set up a consortium agreement. This agreement would allow the allotted financial aid for their current school to be applied to the UW-Stout program.
Q: What courses can my student take abroad?
A: Students work closely with their program director as well as the transfer coordinator to approve courses for UW-Stout credit before they leave on a study abroad program. We want to ensure that students are not be set back in their degree programs because of studying abroad. We work to offer programs that fit UW-Stout students academically and help them to find courses that work for their program. Some students use their study abroad experience to take courses for general education requirements while others take courses for their major, minor, or specialization. Some even get ahead in their program by judiciously planning their study abroad experience.
All credits from a study abroad program show as transfer credits. Grades transfer back as a letter grade (they do not transfer back as pass/fail); however, they do not affect the students’ GPA unless they are graduating with honors. While abroad, students are enrolled in a holding course until their transcript is received from the host institution. Students who study on a short-term faculty-led program are enrolled in their specific study abroad course(s).
Q: Can my student participate in an internship, co-op, or research project abroad?
A: Yes, students seek out other opportunities to go abroad other than the traditional study abroad programs. Many of our study abroad providers (organizations that we partner with and that offer a variety of study abroad options) offer unpaid internships. These opportunities are located in many different countries and are offered across all academic fields. Program details can be found on our website. Students can also conduct research or complete another field experience abroad by working with a faculty advisor. Co-op opportunities must be paid, and the student should work with the Office of International Education and Career Services to secure a co-op position. All programs must be taken for academic credit.
Q: Is it safe to study abroad?
A: Established study abroad programs fully recognize the responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment where your student can live and learn safely. Staff members in the Office of International Education are in continuous communication with administration and government agencies to ensure that the location is of good standing. Furthermore, regarding corona virus, the decision to allow students to participate in study abroad programs at specific destinations is carefully made in consultation with university leadership.
Keep in mind that as a parent, guardian, or caring family member or friend, you may hear about political unrest, natural disasters, or other difficulties from other sources before you are officially notified by the university. We recommend that students participate in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program through the U.S. State Department. It is also important to have a communication plan in place, along with several forms of contact, to use in the case of an emergency.
Many of the health and safety problems that students encounter abroad are similar to those in the United States. More often than not, a student's own behavior tends to directly relate to most injuries and illnesses while abroad. Advice from university officials is not something to be taken lightly. Please see additional information in the Health and Safety section of our website.
Q: What is FERPA?
A: FERPA stands for Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Under FERPA guidelines, students who are over 18 have a legal right to privacy regarding their educational records. This means UW-Stout study abroad staff is prohibited from providing any information regarding a student to anyone other than the student. In emergencies, UW-Stout study abroad staff communicate with any individuals the student has listed as their emergency contacts in the application materials. Nevertheless, be aware that FERPA guidelines apply to all non-emergency matters.