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Parents and Families

ParentPage.jpgWith the majority of incoming freshmen indicating an interest in education abroad, and almost a quarter of the entire MSU undergraduate population actually participating, it’s likely your student is considering options abroad.

At the Office for Education Abroad, we recognize the important role parents and families often play in supporting their students through the process of participating in an education abroad program. MSU has been a national leader in international education for decades and it is our mission to provide valuable, high-quality and academically-sound programming to our students. Our dedicated staff looks forward to assisting your family through this journey.

Please review the information contained on this page as you help your student engage in their preparation.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions from Parents

Why should my student participate in education abroad?

In today’s global society, an international experience has become an essential component of higher education. Education abroad enriches your student’s academic experience by combining their studies with unfamiliar experiences. They will live in interesting places, visit historically and culturally significant sites, examine artifacts they have only read about, and interact with a diverse population. Many students return having gained the following skills/benefits:

  • Heightened interpersonal and communication skills
  • Increased sensitivity to other cultures
  • Becoming more adaptable, assertive, and independent
  • Closer relationships with fellow students and faculty
  • Confidence and self-assurance
  • New or verified career goals
  • Foreign contacts and networking connections
  • Readiness to participate in further international and new organizations/activities

What are the education abroad deadlines?

Applications for programs are accepted on a rolling basis, so the earlier you apply, the better! Application deadlines are as follows:

  • October 1st for Winter Break and Spring Semester programs
  • January 15th for Spring Break programs
  • March 1st for Fall Semester, Academic Year, and summer programs.

Some programs will fill up before the deadline, so remember to apply early!

How does MSU promote safety through education abroad programming?

MSU is one of the few institutions in the country to employ two full-time persons dedicated to overseeing to overseeing health and safety concerns, and responding to emergencies abroad involving students, faculty or staff. The Office of International Health and Safety (OIHS) works closely with the Office of Study Abroad, the Risk and Security Assessment Committee, the University Physician, and colleges/ departments to prevent or minimize the impact of risks to MSU students and employees traveling internationally.

 OIHS supports the safety of Spartans traveling internationally by:

What if my student becomes homesick while studying abroad?

It is not uncommon for students to become homesick during study abroad programs. However, homesickness can be part of the learning and growing process for your student. Please see the links below with useful information and tips on how to help your student.

Overcoming Homesickness and Culture Shock While Studying Abroad -

Mental Health and Study Abroad: Responding to the Concern -

How to Avoid Feeling Homesick While Studying Abroad Over the Holidays -

Culture Shock, Homesickness, and the "Aha Moment" - the

How to deal with Homesickness -

What do I need to know about passport and visa requirements?

Once a program has been selected, students should begin to apply for the appropriate passport and, if necessary, visa documents.  Depending on the location and duration of the program, the necessary documentation will vary.  For international students, some extra time and consideration may be required in respect to this matter.

Please visit the U.S. Department of State website for the latest information on passport application and renewal policies.

The MSU main Library also has passport services available to students.  Walk-in and scheduled appointment services are available.

Some countries may have additional entry requirements (i.e., visas, immunizations, additional fees, etc.).  Please visit the U.S. Department of State page for visas and for more information. 

What types of scholarships are offered?

The Office for Education Abroad offers scholarships to MSU students applying to any credit-bearing education abroad program. Some scholarships are based on a combination of academic performance and financial need; others are based exclusively on academic performance. Some scholarships have additional requirements.

MSU Education Abroad Scholarships

Additional scholarships are also available from on-campus sources such as MSU colleges, departments, and support units, as well as external sources such as national scholarships.

Other sources of scholarships for education abroad

What are the conditions for participating in MSU education abroad programs?

While students are abroad, they are expected to follow all MSU rules for student conduct. A student may be sent home should their behavior not reflect the values and expectations set forth by MSU.

Students are also expected to comply with the law of the country in which they are studying, as well as the laws of the countries in which they travel. While abroad, students should conduct themselves as guests, keeping in mind that they are subject to all the laws of the country while not necessarily enjoying the same privileges as nationals.  Students unsure about what constitutes acceptable behavior in the country they are studying in should consult with the Office of Study Abroad or the program leader. The use, possession, or trafficking of drugs and other illegal substances is forbidden.


If my student has to withdraw from their program, what are the refund policies?

Students may only withdraw from a program by submitting the withdrawal notice in writing (email) to the Office for Education Abroad.Email notifications should be sent to abroad(at)msu.eduA telephone call is an NOT acceptable method for a withdrawing from a program.

• Withdrawal beyond the applicant’s control (substantiated injury, illness, etc.) May exempt the student from fee liabilities upon approval from the Office of Study Abroad.
• If a program is cancelled by the University for any reason at any date, making the program no longer useful to a participant, then affected students will not be subject to any financial withdrawal penalties

Students who withdraw are liable for the following costs:

  • $100 Application fee: non-refundable regardless of date and/or reason for withdrawal
  • $200 Acceptance fee: subject to the refund schedule for program fees listed below
  • Tuition: The Office for Education Abroad follows the MSU university tuition refund policy.

Refund schedule for application and program fees:

The $100 application fee is refundable if the withdrawal is submitted before acceptance or within the two-week period after the date of the acceptance notification.  If a student has accepted admission into a program, the $100 application fee and the $200 deposit (if applicable) are non-refundable and you are financially responsible for the program fee according to the schedule indicted below:

  • More than 8 weeks before the program's first day, the student will be financially responsible for the $100 application fee and $200 deposit (if applicable).
  • Less than 8 weeks before the program's first day, the student will be financially responsible for the $100 application fee and $200 deposit, or any non-coverable costs incurred and/or committed by MSU and its affiliates on the student's behalf at the time of withdrawal (whichever is more).
  • After the program's first day, the student will be financially responsible for the entire program fee.

What should I know about making travel plans?

Depending on the type of program that your student has chosen, your student may be making their own flight arrangements. Hold off booking any flights until your student has been accepted into their study abroad program and has received assurance that the program dates are confirmed. When booking, take into account the layover time, connections, and arrival times at the destination.

For Faculty-Led summer programs, your student will receive arrival instructions from program leader. For other programs, your student should check with the host institution or the Office of Study Abroad for arrival information. 

How can I communicate with my student while they are abroad?

It is important to note that your student may not have constant accessibility to communicate with you. Students may also be busy with classes or immersing themselves in the foreign experience – so do not worry if you do not hear from your student every single day. However, there are several options for communicating with your student during their time abroad:

  • Facebook
  • Skype
  • FaceTime
  • Google Hangout
  • International Phone Plans
  • Internet Cafes
  • Viber
  • WhatsApp

What should I know regarding my student's health before and during the study abroad process?

We recommend that your student have a general physical exam before departure. Check the Center for Disease Control website for information about vaccinations and country-specific health information. Some countries require proof of certain vaccinations before you can enter the country. If your student has a chronic ailment, make sure he or she packs a complete medical record and typed copy of any prescription medication.

Students should visit a travel health clinic such as the MSU Travel Clinic for advice concerning significant/chronic health conditions, updating immunizations, and information about bringing medication/prescriptions abroad.

For more information, visit the Office of International Health and Safety's page on study abroad health.

 If your student has special medical or dietary needs, we suggest the following:

  • Have your physician indicate the generic name of the medication. The brand name of your student’s medication could go by another name in the host country.
  • Research how the student’s condition is typically treated in the host country, or how pharmacies dispense prescription medication.
  • Know how the medical condition is commonly known in the host country so he or she can make the condition known without delay if medical attention is needed. For example, mononucleosis is called “glandular fever” in the United Kingdom.
  • Talk with your insurance company and pharmacy so the student can bring enough medication with them.

Are there any safety tips for my student?

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Research your destination on the U.S. Department of State website 
  • Be sure your passport and visa(s) are current. Your passport should not expire less than 90 days after returning home.
  • Carry a photo copy of your passport with you at all times.
  • Visit a travel health clinic such as the MSU Travel Clinic for advice concerning significant/chronic health conditions, updating immunizations, and information about bringing medication/prescriptions abroad.
  • Review your international health insurance coverage and International SOS medical and security assistance services before departure. Make sure you know the MSU membership number for International SOS – which you should receive from your program director or the Office of Education Abroad.
  • Enroll in STEP – Smart Travelers Enrollment Program. Non-U.S. citizens: check if your local embassy/consulate offers a similar service.
  • Make two copies of all important documents being carried.
  • Download the free International SOS Assistance App from

Safety Tips While Traveling

  • Maintain a high level of vigilance and avoid traveling alone whenever possible.
  • Minimize time spent in large crowds remain aware of exits when inside buildings.
  • Regularly monitor local and international media to increase awareness of local events. Heed the advice of local authorities and your host institution or program leader.
  • Do not participate in protests or demonstrations as even those with peaceful intentions may become unsafe.
  • Take note of the MSU 24/7 International Assistance Line and call if you need help.
  • Pre-program important contact numbers into your mobile phone.

Office of International Health and Safety (OIHS)

OIHS supports the health, safety, and security of all MSU international travelers. We can offer travel safety guidance and are available 24/7 respond to crises. If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact:

Maureen Handrahan
Coordinator, International Health and Safety
Tel. 517-884-9419
Email: handraha(at)

Emergency Contacts 

24/7 MSU International Assistance Line:  +1-517-353-3784
International SOS 24/7 Assistance Line: +1-215-942-8478
*for immediate assistance, contact your destination local emergency number (911 equivalent)

International SOS

U.S. Department of State

Centers for Disease Control

Local Emergency Numbers ("911 Abroad")
alphabetical list of countries' emergency numbers

How should my student handle their money while abroad?

Decide with your student how to access money for both everyday financial needs and emergencies. For the most part, students studying abroad secure cash by withdrawing money from an ATM using the debit or cash card they already use in the United States, and paying for large purchases with a credit card in their name. Using these two methods are not only convenient, they also offer the best exchange rate. ATMs are readily available all over the world and a student’s current debit or ATM card can be used abroad as long as the card is in the Cirrus or PLUS network (check the logos at the back of the card). Students should withdraw a larger amount every once in a while rather than small amounts every day.

Make sure to inform your bank that your student will be using his or her credit and ATM card abroad to avoid deactivation of the cards for irregular use. Check with the bank to determine the daily limit of funds received. Many U.S. banks also charge a transaction fee every time the card is used on a nonbank ATM. You might want to inquire if this fee could be waived when your student is studying abroad. 

What type of electronic devices or gadgets does my student need to purchase before or during being abroad?


Depending on the country your student will go to, an electrical adapter may well be necessary.  An adapter is a small devise that a US plug can plug into, which then can be plugged into a different configuration electrical receptacle/outlet.  These can be very difficult to source in the foreign country, so students need to bring adapters with them. 

Different countries have different outlet configurations.  Adapter kits that include adapters for most areas of the world can be purchased for about $15 - $20 from stores in the US such as Radio Shack, Target, or on-line from providers such as Amazon.  Please note that an adapter is not a converter, or transformer.  There should be no need to bring a converter as they are heavy, and things such as laptops and phone charges accept any common electrical standards (eg, 110 volt 60 cycle US, 220 volt 50 cycle in Europe).  Check your electronics to be sure.  

Cell Phones

Most U.S. cell phones will not work properly outside of the U.S. Inquire with your cellular provider about their international plan. For study abroad students, the cheapest and most convenient option is usually to buy a new phone when they arrive at their destination (depending on the length of their stay). Cell phones are usually affordable and often run on minutes, which are easy to manage weekly or monthly. 

NOTE: Much of a student’s education abroad information (admission data, billing, housing, schedules, etc.) cannot be released to parents without a student’s written permission in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  However, MSU may disclose information when necessary to protect the health or safety of a student.  Learn more about FERPA.