Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Welcome to the Education Abroad FAQ site! Visit the links below to find more information for each type of question.
Q: How is Portland State University’s Education Abroad office monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation worldwide?
A: PSU Education Abroad follows the CDC & Department of State (DoS) guidelines to determine what locations students may travel to. Travel is restricted by PSU to countries that have:
- Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3 or higher
While students can petition to travel to DoS Level 3 countries, final assessments are made based on a review of communication from local authorities, including trending case rates, hospitalizations, availability of travel, quarantine and visa requirements, etc. Decisions are valid at the time of petition. Should the DoS Advisory level change to 4, or the ability to maintain the safety levels on site change, the University's International Travel Risk Assessment Committee reserves the right to recall students back home.
Q: Are PSU students allowed to travel abroad right now?
A: There are some PSU students on Study Abroad programs during Academic Year 2020-21. University policy requires students traveling to, and faculty/staff leading students to countries under a U.S. Department of State Advisory Level 3 to seek special permission from the University's International Travel Risk Assessment Committee. Countries with a Level 4 Advisory cannot be petitioned. If you have a program or country that you are interested in, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an advising appointment. To read more about this policy in full, please visit this website.
Q: Is the Covid vaccine required for PSU students to study abroad?
A: PSU is not requiring the Covid vaccine prior to studying abroad. However, more and more countries are requiring proof of vaccination prior to entry, and/or program providers may require vaccination prior to travel. Please check with your Education Abroad Advisor about the specific requirements for your program.
Q: How does the Education Abroad Office determine if my study abroad program will be canceled?
A: PSU monitors the Department of State Travel Advisory levels, local news, partner insights, and a broad network of Higher Education International Education professionals for up to date information regarding on the ground developments. Working in collaboration with program providers and overseas university partners, an assessment will be made on the feasibility of offering programming prior to departure. PSU’s University's International Travel Risk Assessment Committee has established a travel policy linked to the Department of State Travel Advisory Levels. PSU Approved Programs running in Level 1 and 2 Advisory countries are currently cleared to run. Students wishing to travel to, or remain in countries at an Advisory Level of 3 will need to Petition to the Risk Management Team to continue with the program, if running. Travel to countries with a Level 4 Advisory is automatically cancelled.
Q: What happens if my program gets cancelled?
A: If your program is canceled for the health and safety of students, you will be contacted by the Education Abroad office with the details specific to your situation. You should carefully review the refund policies for your program prior to confirming. The Education Abroad Office will work closely with you to assist you in any way possible to ensure academic continuity so that you can receive credit for work completed. This may include transitioning to online coursework, partial credit, or deferring to another term, depending on the specifics of your situation. Any refunds will be based on the timing of the cancellation, the policy of the program provider, and the type of program you are enrolled in.
Q: What if I apply and I change my mind about my comfort level with travelling?
A: Most programs are working to provide as much flexibility as possible to allow students to assess the situation and their comfort level as close to departure as possible. As such, the program (and the Education Abroad office) will have clearly stated deadlines by which final decisions need to be made without incurring additional costs, and what happens if you change your mind after that time. This will, however, vary by program provider, by term, etc., so you should be sure to review the confirmation details and timeline specific to your program prior to submitting your confirmation.
Q: What if I get COVID-19 while abroad?
A: Each program that PSU Education Abroad works with has clearly defined protocols for managing emergencies and health and safety while abroad. All PSU students are required to receive comprehensive medical insurance for their time abroad, as well. Students should notify their program or university contact and follow the specific next instructions as designed for each location. If you would like to know the specific steps that your program will take should this happen prior to confirming your place, please reach out to your program provider for the details - your Ed Abroad Advisor can assist you with this, as well.
Q: Are there online options that have an international component but don’t require travel?
A: Yes, we have many online programs and internships available that can be viewed here.
Q: Should I register for classes at PSU during the term I am supposed to study abroad, just in case my program gets cancelled?
A: We recommend that you have a back-up academic plan during these uncertain times. Work with your Education Abroad Advisor about how to manage the timing for this, as you will also need to be enrolled in Placeholder Courses for your term abroad. In order to enroll in both, you will need to be approved for an overload until a final decision is required, and then ensure that the courses you will NOT need are dropped.
For additional information please see the other sections of this FAQ page. Visit the PSU website for general information from PSU.
Still have questions? Please email email@example.com
Q: When do most students study abroad?
A: Students may study abroad during their sophomore, junior, or senior year. At PSU, many students study abroad during their junior or senior years. Additionally, students in their freshman year are able to participate in the Carpe Diem programs. You should work with your academic advisor to plan the best time for your study abroad experience.
Q: Is it possible to do my internship overseas?
A: Yes. Junior, senior and graduate students may complete an international internship through IE3. See IE3’s website for details.
Q: How long can I study abroad?
A: Program lengths vary from 2 weeks to a full calendar year. Summer programs are also available lasting 2-8 weeks.
Q: Do I have to live with a host family?
A: Most programs offer at least two housing options. Options may include apartments, dormitories, or host families. Some programs offer only one option. See each program page for housing options.
Q: I’m a post-bac or graduate student. Can I still study abroad?
A: Yes. PSU offers many short-term programs, which are developed by PSU faculty and often times designed for graduate level or post-bac students. Please search our website to find information on these programs. Additionally, you can consider an international internship where you may earn graduate level credit. See IE3 for details.
Q: Can I take dependents with me?
A: Some programs do allow students to bring dependents. We have had students take a child or family with them but it does take advance planning and a sound financial plan in order to make this possible. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.
Q: Can older students still study abroad?
A: Yes. Non-traditional students often participate in study abroad programs. At PSU, we have many students who consider themselves to be non-traditionally aged participate in study abroad.
Q: What if I have dietary restrictions? Can I still study abroad?
A: Yes. Be sure to clearly note any dietary restrictions on your pre-departure forms and on your application. On-site coordinators will then be aware of your needs and can help you prepare for the experience and assist you with any necessary accommodations
Q: Will Four Years Free cover tuition and fees for study abroad?
A: No. Four Years Free covers only base tuition and fees which does not include studying abroad. If a student chooses to study abroad while enrolled in Four Years Free they may be able to retain the award for other academic terms by continuously meeting all eligibility requirements, but time spent abroad will count against the 12 continuous terms that Four Years Free covers.
Q: How do I learn more about Study Abroad?
A: Start on our student resources page, and sign up for an Ed Abroad one-on-one session, or watch the video.
Q: When should I apply to study abroad?
A: Generally, you should begin the application process at least six months before you intend to study abroad. Check the specific program website for deadlines, as they vary by program.
Q: What is involved in the application process?
A: You will need to create a VikingsAbroad profile, which is the online system in which you can apply to programs, make appointments with advisors, and track your progress during the application process.
Q: How do I start a VikingsAbroad Profile?
A: We have created a step-by-step guide to help you.
Q: What steps are required to complete the application process?
A: Most program applications require the following: application form, 1 - 2 academic references, official transcripts from all institutions attended, statement of purpose, and a non-refundable application fee. After applying you will be interviewed by a study abroad advisor and later notified if you are accepted into your program.
Q: How competitive is selection for study abroad programs?
A: Programs vary in their competitiveness, but in most cases if you have a good academic record, strong references, and solid purpose statements, you'll be a successful candidate for your desired program.
Q: Do I have to know a foreign language?
A: No. Many programs are available in English-speaking countries or countries where English is the language of instruction. However, many programs offer the opportunity to increase your fluency by requiring some knowledge of its country’s language.
Q: How do I go about getting an enrollment verification?
A: You can print official verifications of enrollment by following the “Enrollment Verification” link in the Student Services portion of the PSU Information System (Banweb). The link in Banweb connects to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSCH) Student Self-Service site; click on the link and follow the prompts to obtain an official verification. Detailed instructions can be found here. The NSCH can only verify your enrollment if you have provided them with your SSN. If you have not done this, you may fill out this enrollment verification form and submit it to the PSU Office of the Registrar instead.
Q: What do I need to consider if I have a disability?
A: We welcome applicants with disabilities to apply to the program. Please let us know as soon as you are able that you have a disability and your Education Abroad advisor will begin working with you to ensure you have the most accessible experience possible.
Q: I already know what program I want to apply to, what do I do next?
A: Email the advisor responsible for your program and let them know you are ready to start a program application. Make sure you have created a VikingsAbroad profile first.
Q: If I want to meet with an Advisor, how do I make an advising appointment?
A: You can make an appointment through the VikingsAbroad portal.
Q: How do I get a passport?
A: See the U.S. State Department website for details as well as necessary forms. It typically takes between 4 - 6 weeks for a passport application to be processed. In extreme cases, you can pay to expedite your passport application which results in having it processed in 2 - 3 weeks.
Q: What vaccinations do I need before studying abroad?
A: This depends on your destination. See the Center for Disease Control for specific information and requirements. You can also consult with PSU's Center for Student Health & Counseling.
Q: What is a student visa? Do I need one for my program? If so, what is the process for obtaining one?
A: A student visa generally comes in the form of a stamp in your passport that gives you permission to study in a particular country. Many countries require student visas.
You will receive information from your Education Abroad Advisor and/or your program provider about how to acquire a student visa for your program. This often involves sending your passport by registered mail to the consulate or embassy of the country in which you’re planning to study. Therefore, it is important that you have a current passport that does not expire within six months of the date of the end of your program abroad.
Q: What medical/mental health needs do I need to consider?
A: Before going abroad, please consider your daily medical or mental health needs and care. You may have difficulty getting access to particular medications or treatments in certain countries. Please speak with an Education Abroad advisor as early as possible to ensure you have the most accessible experience possible.
Q: How can I use my cell phone while abroad?
A: In order to use your cell phone, it should be unlocked. You can either purchase an unlocked phone or call your cell phone carrier to see if they can unlock it for you. Visit this resource page for more information on using your unlocked phone while abroad or to learn more about popular carriers in various countries.
Q: Are scholarships available for study abroad programs?
A: Yes. Some of your PSU or other local scholarships may be used for study abroad programs. Other scholarships are specifically designed for study abroad students. See our scholarship page for specific details.
Q: Will studying abroad cost more than staying in Portland and attending PSU?
A: Costs vary depending on the unique characteristics of each program. Check program sites for cost details. For accurate comparison be sure to include all costs of living in Portland (housing, utilities, insurance, food, etc.).
You may be surprised to find that in some instances, studying abroad can be even more affordable than attending PSU in Portland. In many cases, studying abroad can be comparable to what you currently pay to attend PSU.
Q: Can I pay my program bill with a credit card?
A: Yes. You may pay with a credit card online, the same way you would pay a tuition bill if you were still at PSU. For more information, view this guide for paying your fees online.
Q: Can I pay my program bill in monthly installments?
A: Yes. However, you will be charged interest and late fees. Each term’s bill should be paid in full before the next term’s installment is due to avoid problems with registration for the following quarter. Additionally, your bill should be paid in full so that you can receive your PSU financial aid in a timely manner.
Q: Will Four Years Free, Transfers Finish Free, Resident Opportunity Scholarship, Out of State Scholarship, WUE and any other "fee remissions"?
A: No. The above only covers base tuition and fees which does not include studying abroad. If a student chooses to study abroad while enrolled in the above they may be able to retain the award for other academic terms by continuously meeting all eligibility requirements, but time spent abroad will count against the 12 continuous terms that the above listed covers.
Q: I have a PSU-based scholarship. Can I use it for my program?
A: Yes. Please visit our Scholarship Resources page to see the list of PSU-based scholarships that can be applied to your study abroad experience. Note that WUE is NOT applicable to your study abroad (however the WUE scholarship does allow students to be charged in-state resident fees on IE3 programs and can also be applied to most PSU Direct Exchange Programs).
Q: Can I use my financial aid to study abroad?
A: Yes, as long as you are participating in a PSU-approved study abroad program you are able to use your financial aid (including grants & loans) for your study abroad program expenses.
Q: How does Financial Aid work with study abroad programs?
A: The answer is found on our financial resources page.
Q: How do I pay for my study abroad experience?
A: You pay for your study abroad experience the same way you pay your bills for study at PSU. For most programs, PSU receives a bill from the university or program provider for your program fee. PSU then bills your student account for the program fee, plus the $400 study abroad fee per term (which is billed as a separate line item on your account) and then pays the bill for your program. If you need help financing your study abroad experience, speak with your financial aid advisor about funding options, or see the Scholarship Resources section of our website. You may also want to engage in fundraising for your study abroad experience. Websites like Fund My Travel, Project Travel or Go Fund Me can help you get started in fundraising.
Q: How does my Financial Aid work with my study abroad program payment?
A: Once you are accepted into a study abroad program, your Education Abroad Advisor will send a budget to the Financial Aid office detailing the expenses of your study abroad program. This will act as an amendment to your FAFSA form. Sometimes your financial aid package will increase due to your higher program expenses, but this is not always the case. Check with your Financial Aid advisor if you have questions about this.
In paying for your program, your financial aid will work the same way it does when you are studying at PSU. The Education Abroad office will bill your account for your program fee and PSU's $350 study abroad fee, your financial aid will be disbursed into your account at the beginning of each term, and if there is money left over it will be accessible to you in the form of a refund.
Your Education Abroad Advisor will divide your program costs up so that you’re charged at the beginning of each PSU term. If you go on a program for the spring semester, your program fee will be divided in two and charged to your account at the beginning of winter and spring terms. In this manner, your financial aid will go toward the program fee each term you’re abroad.
Q: Is it possible to make a payment plan with PSU so that I can pay my account balance in monthly installments?
A: Yes, you may pay in monthly installments, if you prefer dividing up your bill. However, be aware that you will be charged interest and late fees and that each term’s bill should be paid in full (or very close to it) before the next term’s installment is due.
Q: What types of courses can I take while overseas?
A: Many of our students study language, culture, and other social sciences. However, students also study science and business courses as well. Studying abroad is a great way to augment the course selection that you have at PSU. Most programs list their course offerings online, as well as in print material. Follow the Courses Link at the bottom of each program page for more information.
Q: How do I earn credit for my Education Abroad experience?
A: You are guaranteed PSU credit for each course you take on a PSU-approved study abroad program. The way these credits fulfill your degree requirements will vary, depending on your major/minor requirements. Your education abroad advisor will help you with this process. In many cases, you will need to submit the course syllabi to you education abroad advisor and they will liase with PSU departments to identify an appropriate PSU course number for each course you took while studying abroad.
Q: How do my credits transfer?
A: Please note that all credits taken while participating in a PSU-approved education abroad program will be recorded on your PSU transcript as "in-residence" credit. Credits will be shown on your official PSU transcript upon program completion. You may need to make advanced arrangements with the respective PSU academic department in order for your overseas courses to satisfy major/minor requirements.
Q: What is the difference between semester and quarter credit hours?
A: 1.5 quarter credits is equivalent to 1 semester credit. So, if you take a 4 semester credit class while studying abroad, it will show on your PSU transcript as a 6 quarter credit course.
Q: How many credits do I have to take while I'm studying abroad?
A: You will be required to take a certain number of credit hours while you are studying abroad. This will vary on the university and the country in which you study. At any rate, you will need to comply with any rules for registration so that you maintain legal student status in the country in which you study.
If you receive financial aid, you will want to maintain full-time status by taking the equivalent of 12 quarter credits per term. If you are on a fall term/semester program, this should not be a problem. You will want to take a minimum of 8 semester credits to equal a full load of 12 quarter credits in the fall (although in most cases, you will be enrolling in more credits than this to maintain legal student status). If you are participating in a winter/spring program, you will want to register for at least 16 semester credits (24 quarter credits at PSU).
If you do not receive financial aid, you may have more flexibility with the number of credits you take per term. However, in general, you must take enough credits to be considered a full-time student.
Q: Do I have to submit my course syllabi to an Education Abroad Advisor for course evaluation?
A: In most cases, yes, you will need to submit syllabi for each course for evaluation. If you are not sure about this, check with your Education Abroad Advisor.
Q: Are accommodations available to me while I am studying abroad if I have a disability?
A: Accommodations may be available to you while you are studying in another country. Those accommodations may need to be different than those you may receive while on PSU's campus. To find out what accommodations are available to you, please contact your Education Abroad advisor or your DRC Accessibility Specialist (http://www.pdx.edu/drc/accommodations).
Q: Why does my transcript currently indicate that I am enrolled in INTL 399, SPST: Study Abroad courses, on a pass/no pass basis? I thought that I was earning grades for these courses, and that I would earn other credits besides just INTL credits.
A: You are enrolled in INTL 399 placeholder courses while you are abroad on your program and typically for a short while after you return from your program. Once your course equivalency process is complete at PSU and your transcript has arrived at the Education Abroad Office, the INTL placeholder courses will be dropped and replaced with PSU course numbers (based on equivalency approval) for the courses you took while on your program. You will receive letter grades for each class you took while you studied abroad.
Q: I have attempted to log into the PSU information system, and now it says that my account is locked and that I need to have my pin reset. How do I make this happen?
A: You have probably entered in an incorrect pin number and you need to have your pin reset. You should call the PSU Registration Office at 503.725.3412, and ask for your pin to be reset (you will need to answer your security questions). If you cannot call the Registration Office, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org (in the subject line specify pin reset). In the body of the email, explain that you are overseas and cannot physically come to PSU, and because of this you will need to have your pin reset via email request. Include your ID number, current address which is on file with PSU, and your date of birth in the body of the email. Someone will then be able to reset your pin and give you the new pin via email.
Q: When can I register for the next term back at PSU?
A: Information about registering for classes at PSU.
Q: How long does the process take for the courses from my study abroad program to appear on my official PSU transcript?
A: The process generally takes about one full term to complete. However, depending on the time needed to complete course equivalencies and to receive your transcript of your work abroad, the process can require more time.
To speed up this process, we recommend that you send your syllabi to your Education Abroad Advisor as soon as you receive them on your program. In this way, the course equivalencies can be completed before you even finish your program abroad. Then, as soon as your transcript arrives from your overseas program, your advisor can complete the process and record all courses and grades on your office PSU transcript.