Fall 2020 FAQ

Fall 2020 Students

As we look ahead to the Fall semester, we know that many students and their families will have questions related to the status of the study abroad programs. We hope the FAQs below will help to answer your questions as you make plans for your Fall semester. Please feel free to email your advisor at any time with specific questions.

Special Note: This website and the FAQs are for students who plan to study abroad through the UNC Study Abroad Office in the College of Arts and Sciences. These FAQs were last updated on May 26, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

At this time, the Study Abroad Office is committed to running Fall 2020 programs, provided that the programs remain open and accessible to our students. Other campus units, such as Honors Carolina, and some of our partners overseas have made changes to their fall programming, such as condensing the length of the programs or cancelling the option for incoming exchange students. All students affected by these changes have been notified.  The University will continue to monitor the ongoing, worldwide spread of coronavirus. For the latest updates on the University’s response to COVID-19, visit https://www.unc.edu/coronavirus/ 

If travel presents a significant risk to the health and safety of students, and the University determines it is best to cancel Fall programs, the Study Abroad Office will notify you and, if the program has not yet started, will refund the study abroad administrative fee.

Our number one priority is the health, safety, and well-being of our students and our faculty leaders.  

A team of University officials is monitoring the outbreak of the respiratory illness COVID-19 worldwide. To assess risks related to study abroad travel, the University uses a number of resources, including U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notices and U.S. Department of State Advisories.

For more information about how UNC is monitoring the spread of COVID-19, and for up-to-date University travel guidelines, visit https://www.unc.edu/coronavirus/. 

Yes! If another study abroad program has space and has not yet begun, we may be able to switch your application to another program in the same term. You can also move your application so that you will be considered for programs in future terms. We encourage you to look at the program offerings available for your term abroad and talk with your Study Abroad Advisor to explore options.

UNC Study Abroad will contact you primarily via email through your UNC address. Please check your email account regularly for updates. Be sure to set up duo two-step authentication prior to your travel abroad. Also, please provide a second e-mail address in your #heelsabroad account.

The Study Abroad Office will communicate directly with students, and we encourage students to share information about their study abroad programs with their families. 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 will notify students’ emergency contacts if a program is canceled after it has begun and may reach out to emergency contacts if there is a real or perceived health or safety emergency while the student’s program is in progress.

Over the past few months, our office has been inspired by and thankful for our students’ continued interest in study abroad amidst the unprecedented level of uncertainty caused by COVID-19. As we work to navigate through disruptions in our programming, we want to help minimize the financial impact of these disruptions to our students as much as possible and offer clarity about financial obligations. 

Application Fee: The $50 application fee is not refundable.  However, if a student’s program is cancelled and wishes to study abroad in a future term, we can apply the $50 application fee to a future application. 


If you withdraw by June 15: 

The Study Abroad Administrative Fee will be refunded. 

If you withdraw after June 15: 

The Study Abroad Administrative Fee will not be refunded if the program isn’t cancelled, unless… 

1: …you are unable to go abroad because you cannot obtain the required travel documents due to border controls or country-based constraints on obtaining a visa or passport. 

2: …the program changes substantially from its original format or itinerary, and you choose not to participate. 

If your program is cancelled before the start date: 

ThStudy Abroad Administrative Fee will be refunded. 

For detailed information about the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, please visit https://studyabroad.unc.edu/unc-study-abroad-fee/ 

Other expenses to consider if your program is cancelled:

Tuition & Fees/Program Costs: We will work with partner institutions and organizations abroad to refund partial charges when necessary and if possible. Once the program has begun, most program costs are not recoverable. 

Housing: If students pay housing costs out of pocket and if a program is suspended early, students 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 any necessary prorated refund on students’ behalf. Some (but not all) study abroad partner organizations are able to prorate housing costs and offer partial refunds. 

GeoBlue fee: Students will receive a refund of the Blue Cross Blue Shield GeoBlue insurance fee based on the date they return to the U.S., if they return before the original program end-date.  

Please note that students who were enrolled in GeoBlue travel health insurance are eligible to enroll in the U.S.-based StudentBlue Plan. Loss of GeoBlue is considered a qualifying life event to obtain StudentBlue. Students have 30 days from the day their GeoBlue coverage ends to elect coverage in StudentBlue. Coverage is retroactive to the date after the loss of GeoBlue and will be activated once the prorated premium payment is made.  

Deposits paid to host organizations/program providers: Students should contact the provider for options. 

The Study Abroad Administrative Fee will be billed to students’ accounts along with other UNC charges for the Fall 2020 semester. The Study Abroad Office will submit Fall 2020 charges for billing on or around June 15. Students who have committed to a Fall 2020 study abroad program and who withdraw before June 15 will not be billed the administrative fee. Once the fee has been charged to students’ accounts, it is non-refundable except in the case of program cancelation or other situations outlined below.

Also, students who have committed to studying abroad in Fall 2020 can defer their study abroad participation to Spring 2021 with no penalty until June 15. After June 15, the study abroad administrative fee will be charged for Fall 2020, but is transferable to the Spring 2021 term.

If a student decides to withdraw after June 15, and the program is later cancelled by UNC or the host institution before the program start date, the Study Abroad Office will refund the administrative fee.

Since the $50 application fee goes toward expenses incurred from processing student applications in our system, we are unable to provide refunds for this fee. However, if a student’s program is cancelled and wishes to study abroad in a future term, we can apply the $50 application fee to a future application.

How scholarships and financial aid are impacted depends on several factors: 

  • Type of aid and scholarships that a student receives 
  • Timing of the cancelation  
  • Academic options available through the host institution/organization or UNC after the cancelation 

The Office of Scholarships and Student Aid (OSSA) will collaborate with the Study Abroad Office  and work individually with each student to review their specific situation.  

If you have questions, email FA_StudyAbroad@unc.edu.  

If there are specific courses that you need to take in the Fall 2020 semester, particularly ones that have limited enrollmentwe advise that you go ahead and register for them 

This will vary based on: 

  • The program you are participating in 
  • The type of credit you are taking
  • The timing of the cancellation 
  • Options for continuing coursework remotely 
  • 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 on-time graduation. 

If you have already signed up for Fall 2020 on-campus housing, no further action is currently required; Carolina Housing will process your cancelation request without penalty if you go abroad.  If you do not currently have Fall 2020 on-campus housing, please wait to learn about the status of your trip before signing up for on-campus housing.  If your trip is canceled, you will need to apply for housing at myhousing.unc.edu.

Yes. Your host organization/institution and GeoBlue can direct you to local medical care. GeoBlue provides 24/7 health insurance assistance.  

GeoBlue insurance provides coverage to you only while you are abroad (outside the U.S.).  You should maintain your domestic health insurance (StudentBlue or insurance through your family) for the duration of your program abroad. More information is available on the UNC Global Travel webpage about insurance.

Health insurance (through GeoBlue or another provider) provides comprehensive health care coverage while you are abroad but does not cover expenses related to travel. Students participating in a Study Abroad Office program are automatically enrolled in GeoBlue global health insurance.

Trip cancellation insurance is not provided by the University. It is designed to cover travel-related expenses such as:

  • Flight / trip cancellation
  • Loss of luggage
  • Loss of personal belongings

Trip cancellation insurance does not cover study abroad program costs and a policy would need to be purchased separately.

The Study Abroad Office recommends that students purchase trip cancellation insurance on their own. This cost has been included in the estimated out-of-pocket expenses you may incur by participating in the program

For Fall and Academic Year programs, please consider: 

  • Waiting until after July 1 
  • Purchasing travel or trip cancelation insurance 
  • Purchasing refundable tickets