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Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 FAQs

General FAQs

Financial FAQs

COVID-19 FAQs

When will Vassar make a decision about fall 2021 study abroad? What circumstances might result in my study abroad program or College-sponsored travel being cancelled?

Vassar plans to make a decision regarding fall study abroad in early June. Vassar and the Office of International Programs are monitoring the COVID-19 global situation closely. If there is a determination that fall 2021 study abroad cannot be sponsored by Vassar, this decision will not be reversed between June and the start of the fall semester, even if any circumstances change. The timing of this decision is intended for the sake of student and College planning purposes for the fall term. OIP will communicate any updates as soon as they are decided.

It is important to remember that due to considerations for student health and safety, the Vassar College Policy on Student Travel prohibits students who study abroad and students or alumni traveling with college funds from traveling to destinations with a current U.S. Department of State general travel advisory at level 3 or 4, a CDC travel health notice at level 3, or a CDC COVID-19 travel recommendation at level 3 or 4. For the vast majority of countries worldwide, at this time levels remain too high to permit consideration of  travel. We hope that conditions will improve though this is difficult to predict. The following factors are also considered in determining feasibility and safety of study abroad: 

  • Travel restrictions

  • Delays in passport/visa processing

  • Access and reliability of evacuation services

  • Ability to effectively minimize exposure risks

  • Quarantine requirements

  • Possible disruptions to the academic integrity of programs 

  • Impact upon quality of cultural immersion including loss of residential or host family interactions

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What is Vassar's policy on international travel?

The Vassar College Policy on Student Travel follows the guidance of the Travel Advisories issued by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Student travel, including study abroad and academic study trips, is permitted to countries (or regions within countries) designated by the U.S. State Department and the CDC as level 1 or level 2.  College policy prohibits students who study abroad and students or alumni traveling with college funds from traveling to countries with a current U.S. Department of State general travel advisory at level 3 or 4, a CDC travel health notice at level 3, or a CDC COVID-19 travel recommendation at level 3 or 4. 

The Dean of Faculty, Health Services, and Office of International Programs together engage a variety of resources to evaluate travel risk to Vassar students. Vassar may also prohibit student travel if the College determines that travel to the country poses a credible health or security risk to students.

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If my program isn’t canceled, may I still go abroad even if Vassar suspends fall 2021 study abroad?

All students enrolled at Vassar require college approval in order to study abroad.  Students who wish to study abroad without Vassar approval would need to take a personal leave of absence.  However, please be aware that you cannot receive any financial aid for your semester of leave or transfer any course credits completed back to Vassar, and the College will not be able to provide any support while you are abroad.  Given the uncertain nature of international travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this option is not encouraged.

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Given the uncertainty surrounding fall study abroad, can I still request housing for the fall even if I’m currently registered to study abroad?

The fall 2021 housing draw process will begin on April 1st and students planning to study abroad in fall 2021 will not participate. If you have changed your mind and no longer plan to study abroad, you must notify us before the housing process begins - view below for the housing deadlines: 

Process   Start Date   Due Date for Notification
Apartment Draw*  April 1 March 30*
Suite Draw*    April 28 April 27*
House Room Draw May 24 June 4

*In consideration of the uncertain situation for fall study abroad, we have arranged with Housing to have a certain number of pre-selected, fully vacant apartments and suites--in a variety of locations-- "frozen" and not included in the initial selection processes.  If your study abroad plans change later than March 30 (for apartment draw) or April 27 (for suite draw) but before June 4 you may still be able to reside in one.  Keep in mind that these apartments and suites will be limited in number and location and that you would need to either create your own group for an apartment or suite or possibly be sorted into one with other students who also withdrew from study abroad and are open to such an arrangement.  You may be able to join partially occupied apartments or suites if there are vacancies within them at the time that you change plans.

 
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Can I participate in pre-registration for fall 2021 even if I’m currently planning to study abroad?

All study abroad students will be allowed to participate in phase 1 of pre-registration, which will take place April 26th to May 7th.  After the College makes decisions regarding study abroad in approximately the beginning of June, if you are still approved to study abroad at that time, you will then be dropped from your Vassar classes unless you notify us that you have changed your mind and no longer wish to study abroad.  We will email you again before this point in time so that you are aware of your options and timetable.

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What happens if I pay a program deposit and then my program is canceled before I leave?

For Vassar sponsored programs and Vassar exchanges, students do not pay any program deposits. 

For Vassar approved programs, students should contact their study abroad program directly to inquire about their refund policy.  Many programs are offering flexibility with financial policies due to the COVID-19 situation, but students should always communicate directly with their host programs regarding these policies.

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Can I move forward with booking flights and making travel plans?

At this time, we recommend that students delay making any personal travel plans or pay any program-related out-of-pocket costs (such as airfare, visa fees, vaccinations, if applicable).  In the event of a program cancellation, Vassar assumes no liability for costs assumed by students in advance of OIP’s approval.

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Can I defer my study abroad plans to a later semester?

If you would like to consider petitioning to change your study abroad plans to a later semester, please inform our office by emailing us at internationalprograms@vassar.edu.

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General FAQs

What is the minimum GPA requirement for permission to study abroad?

It is recommended that students have a cumulative and major GPA of 3.2. However, the committee evaluates each application on an individual basis. Therefore, students who do not meet the recommended GPA are encouraged to submit their application if there is a compelling academic reason for international study.

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Do I have to pay Vassar's tuition while I am away?

Yes, when studying abroad, all students pay Vassar tuition and receive Vassar credit. Vassar considers charges for expenses that are required as part of the academic program (i.e. Cultural events or field work that the program considers necessary to the academic program) as part of tuition. Program tuition is billed to Vassar, not to the student. Students are responsible for room and board fees and any other unique program charges. All fees must be paid in full in order for the Office of International Programs transfer credit to be applied to a student’s Vassar transcript.

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Will credit for courses I take while abroad be transferred?

Students must receive a passing grade of C or better in courses taken abroad in order to get credit. A “C-“ will not transfer but the grade will still be recorded on the transcript. The Registrar has established semester or quarter hour equivalencies to Vassar's unit system. However, the precise number of units a student receives often depends on how the courses and hours are listed on the transcript and how many credit hours are awarded per course by the host institution.

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Can I take courses in English in countries where the official language is not English?

In countries where the language of study is taught at Vassar students must study in that language. In many other countries there are approved English language international study programs, but you will be required to study the language of the host country while you are there. There are a limited number of exceptions to this policy for example certain specialty programs such as those taught in studio art, architecture or art history. Please check with the Office of International Programs for clarification.

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How do I know if a program is approved or not?

The Office of International Programs and the Committee on Leaves and Privileges review study abroad programs annually to approve programs that meet Vassar's academic standards. Students should refer to the current list of approved study abroad programs before beginning their research, as participation in only an approved program will ensure that study abroad credits are transferable.

If you cannot find a program on the approved list that meets your academic needs, you may petition the Committee on Leaves and Privileges to attend a non-approved program. This entails providing materials with pertinent information on academic courses to the Office of International Programs. You will be notified of the committee’s decision in a timely manner.

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Do I need a passport to study abroad?

Yes. It is your responsibility to make sure that you have a passport that is valid for 6 months beyond your expected return date. You need a passport before you can apply for a visa. The application process for a new passport can take from 4 to 6 weeks.

Requirements for student visas vary from country to country. You will need to check the U.S. State Department website for the consulate that has jurisdiction over your residence. You must have all of your documents in order before you apply for your visa. Some countries also require proof of immunization in order to obtain your visa. Please be sure to read the information on the consulate website carefully! Consulates are very unforgiving if you are not prepared! If you have any questions you can consult the Office of International Programs or your program contact for non-Vassar study abroad programs for assistance.

Getting a visa is your responsibility. Most consulates require that you appear in person to obtain the visa. Please be aware that the application process can take several weeks and in certain cases, there may be a limited window of opportunity to apply for the visa due to restrictions imposed by the consulate. For example, some countries will not allow you to apply for your visa more than 60-90 days in advance of your departure.

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Will I need special vaccinations to go abroad?

You should check with the State Department website, the program, or the U.S. Public Health Service Centers for Disease Control - 800.311.3435 (hot line), 888.232.3299 (fax) - for information on malaria, health advisories, immunization schedules, bulletins on disease outbreaks, etc. Please note that some immunizations must be started 12 WEEKS before your departure. Tetanus/diphtheria, measles, polio, and hepatitis A and B are some of the recommended vaccinations for all travelers. Some countries will require vaccinations for yellow fever and cholera.

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What is available at the Vassar College Health Services?

The Vassar College Health Services offers travel counseling as well as immunizations for students studying or traveling abroad that can prepare and protect you against many of the most common travel related illnesses such as: Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Other travel immunizations available at the Health Center include: Tetanus/diphtheria, Typhoid, and Polio. Health services can also advise about and prescribe anti-malaria medications. Call for a travel clinic appointment. Please note that several travel immunizations are only available off-campus. These include Japanese Encephalitis, Yellow Fever, Rabies, and Oral Typhoid. They are available at these local locations:

Dutchess County Department of Health
387 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 486-3432

International Travel Health Consultants
243 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
(845) 454-7367

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How do I obtain an International Student I.D. Card?

Students may obtain an International Student Identification Card before leaving the U.S. In addition to receiving discounts on meals at some restaurants, museums, trains, flights, hostels, etc. your ISIC card also serves as an acceptable form of identification while you are abroad. The card also provides supplemental medical insurance in the form of basic accident, sickness, medical evacuation and repatriation for travel outside of the United States. Please note that this is not meant to be a substitute for your regular health insurance plan.

You can get your ISIC card from the Registar’s office on campus or order it online here.

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Financial FAQs

What if the tuition for my program is different from Vassar’s tuition?

Vassar has a Home School Tuition Policy that means all students are charged and pay Vassar tuition when studying abroad during the academic year. In effect, the program’s tuition is not pertinent and students may choose a program that is the best fit for them without this being a determining factor. Paying home tuition allows you to transfer credits earned abroad to your Vassar transcript. 

 
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Will the tuition I pay to Vassar cover my room and board expenses while I am abroad?

Room and board is billed directly to the student and is not covered by your Vassar tuition. However, depending on your level of need, you may receive financial aid to cover part or all of the cost of room and board. Remember that room and board is one of the line items included in your study abroad Financial Aid Budget Sheet used in determining the total cost of attendance for the semester that you are abroad.

 
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My program is asking me to pay a deposit. Do I have to pay this?

In most cases it is the student’s responsibility to pay the program deposit. The deposit is usually non-refundable, however your program will apply the deposit to your room and board bill reducing the balance you owe to the program. In certain situations where it is a financial burden to the student, you can ask the program if they will waive the deposit. In either case, if you change your mind after you accept your spot on the program, you could potentially lose your deposit.

 
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How does financial aid work when you study abroad?

Students participating in either Vassar sponsored or non-Vassar approved programs are eligible to receive financial aid. The amount of aid a student receives is based on Vassar tuition, the program room and board, round trip airfare, standard allowance for books and personal expenses plus an allowance toward the Vassar health insurance plan if the student has elected to purchase the plan.

 
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How much financial aid am I eligible for?

Once you have been accepted on your program, you will be asked to fill out the online Study Away Financial Aid Budget Sheet where you will list the expected costs of your study abroad program. The Financial Aid office will then use the information submitted on your CCS profile to determine the level of aid you are eligible for and then apply this to the total cost of your program.

 
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What happens to my work study?

Work study is a federally funded, need based financial aid program and unfortunately Vassar College is unable to make up for the loss of work study earnings through additional Vassar scholarship funds. In order to assist students who depend on their work study earnings, the Financial Aid office will include a loan in your award to cover the amount. Like other loans included in a student’s financial aid package, you will have the option to accept it or not. 

 
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Is there any additional scholarship funding for my study abroad?

Students should also look at outside scholarship opportunities. These are listed on the Scholarships section of our website. In addition, many study abroad programs offer their own need based scholarship. Make sure that you take advantage of these scholarship opportunities. In the past Vassar students have been highly successful in securing program scholarships.

 
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When will I receive my financial aid money?

Financial aid will be disbursed no earlier than 10 days prior to the start of Vassar classes each semester, provided that all paperwork has been completed.  Your aid will automatically be applied to your Vassar student account regardless of where you are studying.  If your aid exceeds your Vassar charges for the semester, you will be issued a refund via direct deposit to your bank account.  Refunds will be processed automatically during the first week of each semester.  We urge you to discuss disbursement procedures with Student Financial Services after you receive your study away/exchange award letter.

Please note: Students with a prior unpaid balance on their student account may not be permitted to attend a study abroad program. Any outstanding balance on your student account will be deducted from your financial aid refund.

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What if I need my financial aid money to pay for my room and board?

You should be able to see the amount of financial aid you are receiving on your Vassar student account once the money has been disbursed. All scholarships, grants and loans will be itemized. Your financial aid funds will be applied against the balance on your Vassar account. Once your Vassar charges have been paid in full, any remaining aid will be refunded to you through your NelNet direct deposit account so that you can pay any outstanding balance on your study abroad program.

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