Frequently Asked Questions

If you're having trouble finding the answers to your questions, please contact ACES Study Abroad at

Is studying abroad expensive?

The investment varies widely by the type of program. Each of the programs offered through the ACES Study Abroad Office and the University of Illinois have budget sheets included within the Costs tab on the digital program brochure. These budget sheets give a strong estimate of how much the program costs. We recommend comparing this to how much you spend per semester to attend Illinois. It is important to know that the program fee for studying abroad is in place of the cost of tuition on campus, not in addition to it.

How will I pay for it?

  • If you filed for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), financial aid money is transferrable in most cases, including grants and loans. It is important to note that some scholarships may not qualify, and you should check with the Office of Student Financial Aid to make certain.
  • There are study abroad-specific scholarships that can be applied before or after being accepted into a study abroad program.
  • Check with your advisor and any faculty coordinating your study abroad experience to see if there are opportunities to reduce the cost of the trip.

Will studying abroad delay graduation?

Studying abroad does not delay graduation for most students. During semester programs, you will likely earn as much credit as you would on campus. For winter break or summer sessions, credit can be earned for field courses and general credits. In some cases, studying abroad can save both time and money.

Are there language requirements?

For most of the programs offered through the College of ACES, there are courses in English for students to take. You can confirm whether there is a language requirement on the digital program brochures.

Is it safe?

ACES Study Abroad and the Office of International Safety and Security take every measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all students abroad on every program. Personal safety can also be dependent on how students conduct themselves while studying abroad, and cultural orientation programs are in place to help students make safe decisions.

What official documents will my student need to travel?

A passport will be required for all programs outside of the United States, and some destinations may also require a visa. Most visas are obtained at the consulate of the country you will be studying in. Other visas, usually called “residency permits,” are obtained once the student arrives at their destination. Students are responsible for obtaining their visas (if required), but more specific information will be provided in the pre-departure advising process.

What is the process for obtaining a passport?

You should apply for a passport several months before you are scheduled to travel, as the process sometimes takes as long as eight weeks to complete and because the passport is needed to finalize your study abroad application. Passports need to be valid for at least six months after returning from study abroad. Information about how and where to apply for U.S. passports can be found on the U.S. Department of State website.

We also encourage your emergency contact to have an up-to-date passport so that in the unlikely event of illness or in an emergency, they would be able to travel to where you are studying.

How should currency exchange be handled?

In many countries, debit cards are the most convenient and safest method of getting foreign currency at a favorable rate of exchange. Be sure to communicate with your banks and credit card companies about where you will be traveling and to understand any international fees. It is not encouraged to carry large sums of cash, but some reserve cash and a second card is helpful in case of an emergency.

How can I stay in touch while abroad?

If you are bringing a smart phone, be sure you know what international plans are available through your carrier and what fees are associated with calls/texts/data. Many students bring smart phones but restrict use for when there is Wi-Fi access. It is possible to use apps such as WhatsApp and GroupMe while abroad over Wi-Fi.

Students on longer programs may also decide to obtain a local sim card to use in country. If that is your plan, be sure to have your smart phone unlocked to use the sim or purchase a pay-as-you-go phone.

What about immunizations?

The McKinley Health Center provides information and options for immunization services for students looking to travel abroad. You can also request a travel consult through your primary healthcare provider or a private travel clinic near you.