Congratulations! Your student has decided to participate in an education abroad program, an experience that we hope will be fulfilling and life-changing. IUP strives to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and tools that foster success and independence, and an education abroad program can be an integral part of that personal and academic growth process.

IUP student and her parents walking on campusThroughout an education abroad experience, the safety, health, and well-being of our students are our highest priorities.

Once a student arrives at a program destination, he or she may experience stress and a period of adjustment related to being in a new and different location. Culture shock is a topic we discuss with each student, and it is important that parents understand it, too. The Education Abroad Office website offers tips on how you can support your student through what can be both a challenging and exciting time.

Parents are encouraged to communicate with their students about the education abroad experience, to use the resources available on our website, and to contact the Education Abroad Office and program coordinators directly if they have any questions or concerns.

We know there is much to consider when preparing to send your student abroad, which is why we have compiled some useful information below.

How can parents get more information?

While we encourage family support and involvement, we ask that the student be the primary spokesperson for asking questions, seeking answers, and general inquiries. If there are extenuating circumstances, we certainly welcome the chance to meet those supporting the participant.

Registration, Financing, and Privacy

FERPA: The Federal Education Right to Privacy Act

Federal privacy regulations restrict the Office of International Education from discussing student records and education abroad information. A student may sign a form to allow named individuals access to such information. Federal law stipulates that students may not sign under duress; therefore, the form is available for your student as part of their online application.


The OIE will register each student for education abroad at IUP under the schedule code "OLOC." The student must have his or her schedule clear of any scheduled classes or "holds" in order for this process to be completed. Only after a student is registered will the bills be issued.

Holds: A hold is placed on a student's account for many reasons, such as a parking ticket, infirmary fee, etc. Registration cannot occur if there is a hold of any kind. Students can access this information through MyIUP.

Financial Aid

Please have your student contact the Financial Aid office regarding grants and loans. Each student will be encouraged to meet with Heather McGregor in the Financial Aid office regarding funding of his or her education abroad experience. Even if students normally do not use loans or receive grants, it is highly recommended that they discuss not only financial options, but procedures and policies they might not be aware of otherwise. Contact the Financial Aid Office at indicating you are a prospective study abroad student.


The IUP Office of Student Billing should be consulted if your student currently has an IUP scholarship.

The OIE has several scholarships available for students who study abroad during the fall or spring semester. Every student participating in a semester-long program abroad will be considered for the OIE scholaships. There's no separate application application process—students are evaluated on the materials submitted during the general application.

There are many other scholarships out there for education abroad programs. These are usually very competitive, and deadlines can be 12 to 18 months before the intended semester abroad, so begin planning early!

Visit our scholarship information page to learn about the different opportunities.


The OIE will provide the exchange fee information to the IUP Office of Student Billing in order for your student's bill to be issued from IUP. Bills are usually issued in late August for the fall semester, early December for the spring semester, and late April/May for the summer session. Windy Bartlebaugh,, is the contact for the Office of Student Billing.

If your student has not received a bill, or the bill reflects incorrect information, please have your student contact the Office of International Education, as there may be some error or exception.

It is a wise idea to have a limited power of attorney named before the student embarks on his or her journey. It is also a good idea to make a few copies before it is signed. For example, have one for the bank, one for the Student Billing office, one for your records, etc.

Passports, Visas, and Immigration

Passports, Visas, and Immigration

  • As the world becomes smaller, each country is tightening its security efforts. What does that mean for travel? All US citizens are now required to have a valid passport as a means of official identification for any travel outside the US, including Canada and Mexico.

  • Your student may need to obtain a visa or residence permit. A visa is permission from the host government to travel and reside for a certain time period in that country. It is usually a stamp or sticker that is placed directly in the passport. In order to obtain a visa, a student must first be accepted into a program. Please have the student contact the Office of International Education for more information regarding immigration requirements for the host country.

  • If you plan to visit your student, or even consider it an option, getting your own passport early is a good idea. This could take up to eight weeks. For more information regarding passports and renewals, visit the US Department of State's travel site for the latest information.

Health Insurance While Abroad

An insurance minimum of coverage is required for the duration of the study abroad experience. These include $200,000 USD medical evacuation and $25,000 USD repatriation of remains. If currently insured in the US, students are encouraged to check with their current health insurance provider and discuss, if any, overseas coverage. Students often purchase additional coverage.

IUP partners with Cultural Insurance Services International to provide adequate insurance coverage while students are abroad, including mental health services, for a competitive weekly rate.

Cultural Insurance Services International
1 High Ridge Park
Stamford, CT 06905 USA
1-800-303-8120 (toll-free within the United States)

Note: Proof of minimum coverage enrollment is required before departure.

Communicating with Your Student During Their Program

Please be aware that, even in this age of advanced technology, students may not have the opportunity to call or email as soon as they arrive in their host country. It is not unusual for the student to call or email two to three days after arriving. Please be patient.

Reasons might include the following:

  • Layovers
  • Delayed flights
  • They are too tired
  • They have to check in with their university
  • They have a scheduled itinerary from the host institution
  • They cannot get a phone card immediately
  • They cannot access the Internet yet (new passwords, student accounts, etc.)

About Internet Phone Services and Apps

These are an inexpensive way for you to communicate with your student. Please talk with your student and set up appropriate "accounts" before they leave. Many students have found the following to be helpful:

  • Whatsapp
  • Facetime (iPhone users)
  • Facebook messenger app now has a video chat feature as well
  • (low-cost/free)
  • (free!)
  • Vonage (virtual phone number in home area code)
  • ooVoo (video chat and text messaging)

It seems that many more apps are being created daily, so if you find one that works for you and your student, use that one. As long as you both have Wi-Fi on the device you are using, no data rates will be applied.

Culture Shock and Adjustment

Your student, no matter how prepared he or she may be, will encounter the four stages of culture shock. Please speak with your student about culture shock. More extensive descriptions are provided in the Pre-Departure Handbook.

These are the four stages of culture shock:

  • Euphoria: Everything is new and exciting.
  • Irritation and Hostility: It is no longer exciting living in a foreign place.
  • Gradual Adjustment: Student begins to adjust, and attitude toward local country and people improves.
  • Adaptation: Complete recovery once he or she can approach the overseas culture with confidence. Attitude has changed, and student accepts new environment as another way of living.

It is extremely important for you to understand these stages of culture shock, so that when your student shows symptoms you will be able to provide assistance if necessary. Parents and close friends are strong influences on a student's experiences. When students are homesick, it is sometimes up to you to provide a comforting ear and offer suggestions.

What can you do to help?

  • Mail: Send mail (real mail). Everyone likes to get mail.
  • Letters, cards, and packages: Some parents send out the address of their student to family members and friends. That way, your student can keep connected.
  • Packages: They can get expensive. You don't have to mail Mountain Dew; however, small packages with a pack of chewing gum or pictures of the dog, etc. are a great little reminder that you're thinking of them.
  • Be sure to check in with them using an app like Skype to talk from time to time.