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 June 12, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

Students who have been accepted to study abroad in the Fall 2020 term received instructions regarding next steps in mid-June. Students who have questions should contact their study abroad advisor. 

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/. 

If your program has been cancelled, we may be able to switch your application to another program in the same term (as space and external deadlines permit) until June 22After June 22, students may defer to a future study abroad term or withdraw their application. 

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 uncertainty caused by COVID-19. We want to help minimize uncertainty for our students as much as possible by offering 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. 

Administrative Fee: The administrative fee is non-refundable and will be charged to your account only if you receive final approval in July to study abroad in the fall 2020 semester. If you defer or withdraw, or if your program is canceled by UNC or the host organization before the program start date, you will not be charged the administrative fee.

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 possible. Once the program has begun, most program costs are not recoverable. 

Housing: If students pay housing costs out of pocket and 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 a prorated refund on students’ 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 enddate

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 date 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. 

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 your trip is canceled, you will need to apply for housing at myhousing.unc.edu It is possible that on-campus housing may not be available for the fall semester. Please research alternative housing options should you need to return to campus before the end of your study abroad program.

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