Spring 2021 FAQs

Spring 2021 Applicants

We know that many students and their families have questions related to the status of Spring 2021 study abroad programs. We hope the FAQs below will help answer your questions as you make plans for the Spring semester. 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. These FAQs were last updated on October 5, 2020. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Our study abroad advisors and financial aid advisor are currently taking appointments via Zoom. Please reach out to an advisor to schedule a one-on-one Zoom appointment by visiting https://studyabroad.unc.edu/advising-events/. 

In short, yes. The changes to our Spring 2021 programming significantly vary by program and location. Many programs have introduced COVID-19 health and safety protocols and contingency plans for remote instruction if needed. Other providers and institutions abroad have adjusted their program start and end dates to comply with travel restrictions, mitigate visa difficulties or allow more time for the COVID-19 situation in the host country to stabilize.  We have updated online program brochures to reflect changes of which we are aware. 

At this timeUNC Chapel Hill restricts University-affiliated travel outside the state of North Carolina. The Study Abroad Office will seek exceptions to this restriction on a country-by-country basis and inform applicants directly about the outcome of their application and status of their program by mid-November. The Study Abroad Office has closed programs in countries that currently prohibit entry of U.S. travelers. If students have questions about their programs or host country, they should contact their study abroad advisor. 

For Spring programs, please consider:  

  • Talking with your Study Abroad Advisor for guidance regarding when to purchase your tickets 
  • Purchasing travel or trip cancellation for any reason insurance (some trip cancellation policies do not cover Covid-related costs) 
  • Purchasing refundable tickets 

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

Travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance, or cancel for any reason policies are not provided by the University. These types of policies are available from a variety of vendors, each offering coverage for  various travel-related expenses, such as: 

  • Flight / trip delay, interruption, or cancellation 
  • Change fees  
  • Delay / loss of luggage 
  • Loss of personal belongings 
  • Study abroad program costs 

The Study Abroad Office recommends that students explore their options and consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance or cancel for any reason coverage on their own. This cost has been included in the estimated out-of-pocket expenses (on the program budget sheet) you may incur by participating in the program. 

Note: October 15, 2020 is the commitment deadline for most Spring 2021 study abroad programs. 

Application Fee: Once students submit their applications to study abroad, the $50 application fee is not refundable. However, if after submission, a student’s program is cancelled and they wish to study abroad in a future term, we can apply the $50 application fee to a future application.  

Administrative Fee: The administrative fee (which may vary depending on UNC students’ school affiliation or program) is non-refundable and will be charged to a student’s account only after committing to a program Program costs and the study abroad administrative fee will be charged to students’ accounts in mid-November. For the Spring 2021 study abroad term only, the Study Abroad Office has extended the period during which students may withdraw without financial penalty. If the student defers or withdraws before January 4, 2021, or if their program is cancelled by UNC or the host organization before the program start date, the Study Abroad Office will return the full amount of the administrative fee. Please note if the student has already paid other program costs to UNC or directly to the host organization, those costs may not be recoverable. For detailed information about the Study Abroad Administrative Fee, please visit https://studyabroad.unc.edu/unc-study-abroad-fee/  

Tuition & Fees/Program Costs: By committing to a study abroad program, students also commit to paying program costs and fees in full. If a program is cancelled by UNC or the host organization before the program start date, students may be eligible for full or partial refunds.  Once the program has begun, most program costs are not recoverable, including tuition and program fees. The Study Abroad Office will work with partner institutions and organizations abroad to refund partial charges when possible. 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: For most Spring 2021 study abroad programs, students will pay housing costs directly to the host organization; housing costs will not be billed through their UNC accountsIf students have paid housing costs out of pocket and a program is cancelled before the program end date, students should request prorated refunds from the housing agency directly. In the event housing costs are included in the study abroad program costs billed through UNC, the Study Abroad Office will request a prorated refund on students’ behalf.   

GeoBlue fee and health insurance: GeoBlue global health insurance is included in the program costs based on program duration and is billed through students’ UNC accountsIf a program is cancelled before the program end date, 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. Upon their early return, U.S. citizens become eligible to obtain the Blue Cross Blue Shield Student Blue health insurance available to Carolina students. More information is available on the UNC Global Travel webpage about insurance. 

Deposits paid to host organizations/program providers:If students withdraw from a program before the start date, and if they have submitted a deposit to the host organization, students should contact the host organization directly for guidance.

If there are specific courses that you need to take in the Spring 2021 semester, particularly ones that have limited enrollment, we advise that you register for them when registration opens. We will contact you regarding registration for your study abroad program; please check your UNC email regularly as study abroad registration must be completed within a specific timeframe. 

At this time, we are waiting for more information about the availability of on-campus housing for Spring 2021. We will provide updates as we receive them.

Students who are accepted to study abroad will be in regular communication with their study abroad advisor, and they will be notified as soon as possible of any changes to their program. If a program is cancelled (for example, because borders remain closed) before the program start date, 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, students may defer to a future study abroad term or withdraw their application. 

 Changes to financial aid depend on two factors:  

  • Timing of the cancellation   
  • Academic options available through the host institution/organization or UNC after the cancellation  

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.   

Spring study abroad scholarships cannot be deferred to future terms. If you reapply for a study abroad program in the future, you can reapply for scholarships at that time. 

Whether or not you receive course credit will vary based on the following 

  • the program you are participating in,  
  • 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 on-time graduation. 

All Spring 2021 study abroad programs will have a plan for students to be able to complete the semester remotely if needed. In some cases, students may study remotely while remaining in the host country. If students depart the host country before the program’s scheduled end date, and if they are able to successfully complete coursework remotely, then credit will be awarded just as if they had remained on-site. The UNC Study Abroad Office will help advise students if this transition occurs. 

The Study Abroad Office will notify students’ emergency contacts if a program is canceled only after it has begun. If the program is cancelled prior to the start date, 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 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. 

UNC Study Abroad will contact you primarily via email through your UNC address before, during and after your time abroad. Please check your email account regularly for updates. Before you go abroad, please be sure to set up duo two-step authentication and provide a second e-mail address in your HeelsAbroad account. 

GeoBlue Health 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.  

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. Students may review the full insurance policy details in the HeelsAbroad application system.