Study Abroad FAQs
We know that many students and their families have questions about the status of study abroad programs. We hope the information below will help answer your questions as you make plans for your term abroad. Please email your study abroad advisor at any time with specific questions.
Special Note: This webpage is for students who plan to participate on a program offered through the UNC Study Abroad Office (SAO).
Decisions about Program Viability
Study Abroad operations continue to be fluid as we navigate the next phases of the global pandemic. Programs in countries with a Department of State Travel Advisory at level 3 or higher will be subject to further review and approval.
The Study Abroad Office will make decisions on the basis of global public health indicators; the ability of U.S. travelers to enter and depart the host country; availability of commercial flights; public health protocols, access to local health care, student support services at the program site; and other relevant factors.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can complete your entire application online, but we are still available to advise you along the way. You can make an appointment with an advisor by visiting: https://studyabroad.unc.edu/advising-events/.
Some host countries and institutions require that participants be fully vaccinated, and exemptions (medical and religious) vary widely.
- Students are expected to research these requirements and understand that requirements may change between the time of application and the program dates. Contact your advisor if you have questions about the requirements.
- Students are required to be in compliance with such requirements as of their program start date (including completion of periods of quarantine);
- Students are responsible for any expenses associated with complying with host country COVID-19 requirements.
Foreign governments and local municipalities may implement restrictions with little notice, even in destinations that were previously low risk (U.S. Dept. of State).
COVID-19 travel restrictions that could disrupt your participation in a program include:
- negative test results required for entry,
- possible mandatory quarantines or periods of self-isolation, and
- negative test results or vaccination status for entry to many public buildings or restaurants.
Getting an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccination is the best way for members of the Carolina community to protect themselves and others at home and abroad, and to stop the spread of the virus.
Most programs are accepting applications, and students may find a comprehensive list of open programs when they search our Heels Abroad database. If a student applies to a program in a country with a Department of State Travel Advisory at Level 3 or higher, the program will be subject to further review and approval, and students will be kept informed of program viability.
Some programs may adjust things such as program start and end dates. We will update online program brochures to reflect changes of which we are notified.
If you apply to study abroad, your study abroad advisor will be in regular communication with you and will notify you of any changes that are made to your program.
If the program is cancelled during the application phase:
Once you submit your applications to study abroad, the $50 application fee is not refundable. However, if your program is then cancelled and you wish to study abroad in a future term instead, we can apply the $50 application fee to a future application.
If the program is cancelled after students have been accepted and have signed the Study Abroad Contract:
After you are accepted to study abroad, and you have signed the Study Abroad Contract, you should be aware of the following financial obligations:
Administrative Fee: The administrative fee is non-refundable and will be charged to a student’s account only after committing to a program. Please note that you will remain responsible for the administrative fee if you decide to withdraw from the program.
However, the Study Abroad Office will return the full administrative fee if the program is cancelled by UNC or the host organization before the program start date.
For detailed information about the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, please visit https://studyabroad.unc.edu/unc-study-abroad-fee/
Tuition & Fees/Program Costs: We will work with partner institutions and organizations abroad to refund partial charges when possible. Once the program has begun, most program costs are not recoverable, including tuition and program fees. Please review the Study Abroad Office cancellation and withdrawal information at https://studyabroad.unc.edu/cancellation-withdrawal-information-and-refunds-for-unc-study-abroad-programs/
Housing: If you pay housing costs out of pocket and a program is suspended early, you should request prorated refunds from the housing agency directly. If housing costs are included in the study abroad program costs, the Study Abroad Office will request a prorated refund on your behalf. Some (but not all) study abroad partner organizations are able to prorate housing costs and offer partial refunds if the program is terminated before the original end–date.
GeoBlue fee and health insurance: You will receive a refund of the Blue Cross Blue Shield GeoBlue insurance fee based on the date you return to the U.S., if you return before the original program end-date. Upon their early return, U.S. citizens and international students who have a visa to resume studies at Carolina mid-semester become eligible to obtain the Blue Cross Blue Shield Student Blue health care available to Carolina students.
Deposits paid to host organizations/program providers: Students should contact the provider for options. Any refunds will be at the discretion of the provider.
If a program is cancelled before its expected start date (for example, because borders remain closed), we may be able to switch your application to another program in the same term (as space and external deadlines permit). If we are unable to find another suitable program, you may defer to a future study abroad term or withdraw your application. If you do not switch to another program, and choose to withdraw your application, you may enroll in UNC courses during the typical enrollment period.
UNC Study Abroad strives to minimize any academic impacts related to program cancellations. Whether you receive course credit will be based on the following:
- the program in which you are participating,
- the type of credit you are pursuing,
- the timing of the cancellation,
- options for continuing coursework remotely, and
- timing relative to your program dates and on-campus enrollment.
The Study Abroad Office and Academic Advising will work with you individually to help you stay on track for graduation.
All study abroad programs will have a plan for students to be able to complete the semester remotely if needed. In some cases, you may study remotely while remaining in the host country. If you depart the host country before the program’s scheduled end date, and if you successfully complete coursework remotely, then credit will be awarded just as if you had remained on-site. The UNC Study Abroad Office will help advise you if this transition occurs.
Yes. GeoBlue Health Insurance covers COVID-19 testing for individuals displaying symptoms, and your host organization/institution and GeoBlue can direct you to local medical care. GeoBlue provides 24/7 health insurance assistance. You may review the full insurance policy details in the HeelsAbroad application system.
The Study Abroad Office will notify your emergency contacts if a program is cancelled only after it has begun. If the program is cancelled prior to the start date, the Study Abroad Office will communicate directly with you, and we encourage you to share information about your study abroad programs with your family. In any situation in which students are capable of making their own decisions, communicating, seeking medical care and making travel arrangements, students will decide whether to notify their emergency contact of changes to their programs. The Study Abroad Office may reach out to emergency contacts if there is a real or perceived health or safety emergency while your program is in progress. Any communication with emergency contacts will be subject to a student’s consent on file or if otherwise permitted by law.
Yes, please open a new application. If you previously opened an application to study abroad, your advisor can review application items that may be transferable and work with you on items that may need updating.
Email your study abroad advisor or email@example.com and let us know how we can help.
Scholarships that were previously awarded cannot be transferred to future programs, since available scholarship funding varies from cycle to cycle. To be considered for scholarships, you will need to answer applicable scholarship questions in your program application.
If you previously applied and were accepted to go on a program that was later cancelled, we will take that into consideration when making admissions decisions for study abroad programs.