Frequently Asked Questions
You've got questions? We've got answers! Study abroad can be complex, but we have over 70 years of experience in making it easy.
Commonly Asked Questions About Studying Abroad
Study abroad is studying or working as a student in a different country, either virtually or in person to broaden your academic, cultural, and social horizons. Study abroad is what we do!
SAF is part of IES Abroad, a not-for-profit provider founded in 1950 with 140+ study abroad and internship programs around the world for college/university students.
With our comprehensive study abroad application support, advice, and orientations, we make the process as simple as possible. Our close relationship with home and host universities should give you peace of mind, knowing your choice to study through SAF ensures you're safe and secure every step of the way. We guarantee housing for the duration of your study abroad adventure and are available whenever you need us, on the ground, to support you in every part of your experience.
Before you settle on a single program, consider what appeals most to you: a small or large campus, language development or for-credit study, academic prestige or building relationships and experiences, and many other factors. This website includes many useful tools, such as our Program Finder, to help you understand which program might be best for you. You can also connect with SAF's Study Counselors, youro parents, and home university staff to help you in your decision. SAF is here for you, too!
With decades supporting international study, we have gathered thousands of stories from SAF Scholars in hundreds of cities. For each destination, we have student blogs and location articles to help you in your decision. You may also be able to reach out to SAF Alumni or an SAF Student Counselor who can give you all the tips and helpful information you need as you prepare for life overseas.
Many host universities offer both merit- and need-based scholarships to short-term visiting students, often made available exclusively through the Study Abroad Foundation and applied in the SAF Program Fees. For more information on scholarships, see our scholarships page. If you're interested in university scholarships, discuss your goals with your SAF Student Counsellor.
For both SAF and IES Abroad, student health and safety is at the forefront of all we do. All SAF Program Fees include a mandatory health insurance policy. You complete a physical six months before you leave so our student affairs staff on-site have up-to-date information and can support your health and medical needs while abroad. You can also read more information about our health and safety protocols.
Some SAF projects include escorted short-term tours, which are included automatically in the program's fee. Semester programs rarely include additional trips outside of the regular curriculum because each person has their own destination and travel requirements.
We love connecting students with our alumni! Our student blog and global ambassadors give you a comprehensive glimpse at the study abroad experience. SAF Alumni are often at recruitment seminars and webinars, so you can chat with them. If you would like a conversation with a SAF Alum, reach out to us to find out about next steps.
Commonly Asked Questions About University Partnerships
SAF's international university network comprises universities noted for their ranking, distinct courses, accomplished faculty or alumni, and their internationalization capabilities. With SAF, our network works together to increase study abroad opportunities for well-qualified and highly motivated international students from a wide range of home universities in Asia.
SAF students hail from top universities in China, Japan, and Korea. SAF Students work with professional SAF student counsellors to choose a study abroad program most suited to their goals.
With multiple offices across China, Japan, and Korea, the Study Abroad Foundation is a trusted and integral internationalization partner to our home universities. We advise international offices and faculty of opportunities to enhance their student mobility and international exposure.
SAF students study a range of programs. While visiting for a single semester is a popular choice, many students enhance their experience with additional language studies, internship, or research programs.
Working with the Study Abroad Foundation fast-tracks the internationalization efforts of home university partners. Leveraging our experience in the field, home university partners gain instant access to our study abroad and visiting placement options for their students and minimize the impact of student mobility on university staffing and financial resources.
SAF has decades of experience in understanding the complex nature of study abroad programming and student support. We have developed partnerships with universities across a broad range of disciplines for international students. Working with SAF gives students access to hundreds of for-credit academic semester, summer, research, language, and internship programs. We also support SAF Students both in their daily lives as well as in emergencies, through SAF support staff and crisis management teams.
As part of IES Abroad, SAF has access to over 30 teaching centers across Europe, Africa, Oceania, and South America. This network provides opportunities for your faculty to develop bespoke academic study tour and faculty-led programs across a range of disciplines.
Our staff works in partnership with international offices to assist with one-on-one counselling and to ensure students maximize their study abroad experience.
Best of all, the Study Abroad Foundation is a registered US 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, securing us as a reliable partner, with all revenues reinvested into the organization's long-term capabilities to offer a world-class experience for international students.
SAF has developed sophisticated enrollment management services for short-term visiting students and their admissions personnel at inbound host universities. This reduces the time, resource intensity, and cost of recruiting and enrolling visiting non-degree students.
As a host partner with SAF, you benefit from these specialized recruitment and advising services, a comprehensive approach to student health and safety and student housing placement, deep market intelligence, and a range of payment services to ease the transition of students into your university.
The Study Abroad Foundation's teams are in offices across Asia and the United States and work to educate partners and students about study abroad opportunities across our network.
Our in-country staff work hand in hand with their global peers to facilitate 24-hour support for our students and partners. Our US team works daily with host university partners to maximize student application quality.
SAF is a part of IES Abroad, a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization in Chicago, USA. IES Abroad has an independent Board of Directors, a group of senior business and academic leaders in their field to hold it to the highest transparency and ethical business standards.
Everything we do is about the student. We’re a passionate team of study abroad professionals who believe in creating once-in-a-lifetime educational adventures that transcend expectations. We believe every student should have the opportunity to go abroad to experience an enriching, safe, and superior academic and cultural environment.
IES Abroad launched its first program in 1950. Today, IES Abroad facilitates study abroad programming for nearly 10,000 students a year around the world.
SAF is always out-and-about. Whether you're a university representative, or an interested student, there are numerous opportunities to meet representatives of the Study Abroad Foundation.
Industry and university staff should look for SAF at APAIE, EAIE, or NAFSA, or discuss with SAF our regular professional development opportunities in Asia and the United States.
A foundation is a non-government entity established as a not-for-profit organization. The Study Abroad Foundation is one such organization, established with the principal purpose of supporting individuals and universities in their pursuit of internationalization.
Not-for-profit organizations based in the United States are considered 'tax exempt organizations', and are required to submit annual filings to the government which are made publically available. These filings give complete public transparency about the organization's finances, board members, and key employees.
In short, as a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, all of our earnings must be reinvested in our organization - in our capabilities, in our students, and in our mission to provide the most highly regarded study abroad opportunities available.
SAF partner universities have an agreement to foster close academic and administrative cooperation. Students studying at non-partner universities are welcome to apply but may need to negotiate additional arrangements with their home university on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, SAF programs are open to students currently enrolled in a bachelors degree or higher. Students are required to be over 18 years old and legally considered an adult to study on our programs.
The Study Abroad Foundation offers academic study tours at university and teaching centers around the world. Through the resources of IES Abroad, our university partners benefit from our capabilities to consult with university faculty members to design either for-credit or non-credit program tailored for their curriculum.
As a mission-based, not-for-profit organization, the Study Abroad Foundation operates with the long-term goals of encouraging student mobility and promoting university internationalization. While student recruitment agencies typically operate with the goal of generating profit, the Study Abroad Foundation aims to support students and universities academically through our mission-based framework and our legal not-for-profit status.
Commonly Asked Questions About Customized Programs
From experience, we know building study tours and customized program takes at least nine months from initial conversations to students arriving. It's important to be clear from the beginning everyone involved needs at least that amount of time to develop and administer the program. We are more than happy to work on requests for further down the road, too.
This is a team effort, so all stakeholders, officials, and decision-makers involved with the program, from academics to sponsorship, should have a part in the planning process.
SAF reviews your program suggestion form to determine whether we have enough details to move forward—we'll be in touch with questions if we have any. If everything is in order, an SAF Program Development Manager will contact you.
Accommodation is different for every university and every program. In the past, SAF Scholars have stayed in short-term student apartments, hotels, dormitories or halls of residence, and even homestays with a local family. Each program details the accommodation type or, if applicable, the options available.
Commonly Asked Questions About Admissions
To apply to a SAF program, you need to apply both to your home university and to SAF. Our expert Student Counselors are well affiliated with your university's study abroad policies, so schedule a consultation with us to get started. You may also like to visit your university's study abroad office website to learn more about their application process and deadlines before getting started with your online application with SAF. We have also outlined the SAF application process on our Admissions Process page.
You might choose to study abroad for more than one semester or focus on language learning in one semester before taking for-credit courses in the home language of that university. We have several types of program combinations and your Student Counselor can help you as you choose the best combination to suit your goals. Speak with an SAF Study Counselor to understand your options.
The Admissions Requirements section of the program page outlines which documents you need to apply as part of the admissions process. Each program needs the specific documents listed on the program page. Your SAF Student Counselor can help you with more detailed questions.
While we can't guarantee that every application will be accepted, we can confidently say that we know how to maximize your chances of success. If you're applying for a popular university program, or one that accept only a very few study abroad students—such as Berkeley or Columbia— then we may ask you to nominate a second or third preference so we cna increase your chances of studying aboard at a time that suits your academic journey. The relevant department at the university you're applying to will decide whether to offer you a place.
Generally speaking, yes! To study abroad during your regular academic year, your home university may have to suspend your study, and the Academic Affairs Office may need to understand and agree to the courses you plan to study so you can transfer credits when your return. You should contact your International Office, or schedule a consultation with our Student Counselors, to know more.
Generally, SAF programs are for undergraduates and early graduates over 18 years old.
To travel abroad, you need a passport that is valid until at least six months after your program’s end date. For most of our programs, you need your passport to apply for the required student visa. It’s in your best interest to apply for a passport as soon as you start considering studying abroad.
Yes, you can withdraw your application. At SAF, we do our best to guide your application, answer your questions, and support you. It is wise to withdraw earlier rather than later to avoid losing your fees, which you pay for application, tuition, accommodation reservation, insurance purchase, etc. Some fees cannot be refunded. For details, please refer to the Student Service Agreement provided during your admissions process.
Each host university, country, and program is different, but we keep Program Fees transparent from the beginning. Beyond the cost of the program, you should budget for living and personal expenses, airfares, visa costs, textbooks, local transportation and phone. Some programs offer meal credits and housing additions attached to your invoice. Your SAF Student Counselor can help you plan your travel and study costs, so schedule a consultation to get started.
Each program has a complete fee breakdown, which will be provided to you during the application process. These fees include your class tuition fees, housing, compulsory host university fees, health and emergency travel insurance, and SAF support.
The SAF Program Fee does not cover living expenses, airfares, visa costs, textbooks, personal expenses, local transportation, local telecommunication, or optional extras, such as additional credits, extra meals not required by your housing provider, or specialized housing arrangements you may request or be placed in at the discretion of your host university.
The fees displayed on our website include your tuition and service fees, but not your housing fees, which will be confirmed with you during your admissions process.
Find out more about fees.
No, SAF will arrange your accommodation during your study abroad program. Your program might include a homestay, residence hall, or on- or off-campus apartment. Some programs offer you a choice, and we work to the best of our ability to fit your preferences to the final housing arrangements. Whereever you stay, you can be confident that SAF has verified your housing as the safest, most secure and convenient option available.
Yes, housing is guaranteed as part of our commitment to your health and safety abroad. Each program's housing is different, and some give you a selection of accommodation to choose from. See the program page for housing details or speak with your SAF Student Counsellor for more information.
Why Partner With SAF?
Find out more about how working with SAF can accelerate your university's internationalization efforts.