Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Vassar's policy on international travel?
- Do I need to be vaccinated in order to study abroad?
- What do I need to do to finalize my fall study abroad plans?
- How can I learn more about the COVID-19 conditions in my host country?
- If my study abroad program is cancelled, can I return to Vassar for the fall semester?
- What happens if I pay a program deposit and/or other fees and then my program is cancelled before I leave?
- May I participate in a study abroad program that is offered remotely?
- Once I am on my program, am I permitted to travel freely?
- What happens if my program is suspended once I am on site?
- Can I move forward with booking flights and making travel plans?
- Can I defer my study abroad plans to a later semester?
- What is the minimum GPA requirement for permission to study abroad?
- Do I have to pay Vassar's tuition while I am away?
- Will credit for courses I take while abroad be transferred?
- Can I take courses in English in countries where the official language is not English?
- How do I know if a program is approved or not?
- Do I need a passport to study abroad?
- Will I need special vaccinations to go abroad?
- What is available at the Vassar College Health Services?
- How do I obtain an International Student I.D. Card?
- What if the tuition for my program is different from Vassar’s tuition?
- Will the tuition I pay to Vassar cover my room and board expenses while I am abroad?
- My program is asking me to pay a deposit. Do I have to pay this?
- How does financial aid work when you study abroad?
- How much financial aid am I eligible for?
- What happens to my work study?
- Is there any additional scholarship funding for my study abroad?
- When will I receive my financial aid money?
- What if I need my financial aid money to pay for my room and board?
What is Vassar's policy on international travel?
The full Vassar College Policy on Student Travel may be reviewed here.
As of June 1, 2021, students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are generally permitted to travel to countries with a level 3 or 4 advisory/travel health notice if the sole reason for the advisory/travel health notice level is due to COVID-19. However, the College will continue to monitor conditions closely and approval for travel to specific destinations may be rescinded if health and safety conditions deteriorate to a level the College determines to be unsafe.
Students approved to study abroad are not permitted to travel outside of the country where their study abroad program is based unless otherwise authorized by both Vassar College and their program.
Students remain required to submit a petition to request an exception for travel to areas that are designated as a State Department level 3 advisory for a reason other than COVID-19; students should contact the Office of International Programs for details. There are no petitions for travel to a location designated as a State Department level 4 advisory for a reason other than COVID -19.
The Dean of Faculty, Health Services, and Office of International Programs together engage a variety of resources to evaluate travel risk to Vassar students. Regardless of advisory levels, Vassar may also prohibit student travel if the College determines that travel to the country poses a credible health or security risk to students.
Do I need to be vaccinated in order to study abroad?
Yes, per Vassar’s College Policy on Student Travel, all students must be fully vaccinated prior to leaving for their host country.
Students who have a medical or religious exemption from Vassar’s COVID-19 vaccination requirement should contact OIP for more information about Vassar’s College Policy on Student Travel.
What do I need to do to finalize my fall study abroad plans?
If you decide to pursue study abroad for the fall, you must complete the following steps:
Submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination to Health Services.
Complete the Student Travel & Safety Plan for Fall 2021.
Read and sign the updated waiver form located in your global learning portal.
Schedule an appointment with the Office of International Programs for individual or group (if you have a peer attending the same program) meetings to review the health/safety conditions at your program location and any remaining logistical barriers to your participation.
How can I learn more about the COVID-19 conditions in my host country?
It is important to pay attention to information provided by your program or host university regarding COVID-19 conditions abroad, and to also do your own research. You may find the following websites to be especially valuable:
U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Health Notices
U.S. Embassy COVID-19 Information Pages
World Health Organization country situation reports
Additionally, international and local news outlets can provide helpful country-specific information and allow you to obtain a better understanding of conditions in your host country.
If my study abroad program is cancelled, can I return to Vassar for the fall semester?
If your study abroad program is cancelled or worsening conditions in your host country cause the College to revoke your study abroad approval prior to the start of the fall term, we will welcome you back on campus so that you can continue your studies at Vassar. Just be aware that housing and class choices will be very limited at that time.
What happens if I pay a program deposit and/or other fees and then my program is cancelled 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.
May I participate in a study abroad program that is offered remotely?
No, Vassar cannot approve remote participation in study abroad programs. We do not approve student participation in study abroad programs that are offered only virtually, without travel to the program on-site. In addition, Federal guidelines do not normally allow Vassar to disburse financial aid for educational programs delivered remotely.
In spring 2020 the requirement for learning to take place in person was temporarily lifted by the Federal government due to the pandemic emergency. Therefore, study abroad participants who returned to the U.S. during their spring term were permitted to complete their coursework online. However, to date, Vassar has not received guidance as to whether such remote learning remains permissible under 2021-22 Federal guidelines for financial aid. Therefore you need to be aware that in the unlikely event your program is disrupted such that you are required to return home before finishing the program, there is the possibility that you could lose financial aid. Consequently, a disruption of that kind could potentially thwart your ability to receive academic credits for your semester abroad.
While a complete program disruption and early return appears unlikely, we want you to be fully aware of this possibility. Regardless of what happens, Vassar College will support you in managing any disruption in your program and its outcomes to the best of its ability. We will keep you informed if/when we receive any updated guidance regarding Federal Student Aid vis-a-vis remote learning.
Once I am on my program, am I permitted to travel freely?
Students approved to study abroad are not permitted to travel outside of the country where their study abroad program is based unless otherwise authorized by both Vassar College and their program.
What happens if my program is suspended once I am on site?
It is possible while you are on study abroad that an unexpected disruption would necessitate quarantine or an early return; the College may not be able to assist you in either of these circumstances.
A suspension mid-program could lead to loss of credits for the term, and while we highly recommend enrolling in the Tuition Insurance program, this only applies to complete withdrawal from the term due to illness or accident as certified by a licensed practitioner. Additionally, it does not cover costs beyond tuition, so it is possible that you could experience some tuition and other financial losses.
Can I move forward with booking flights and making travel plans?
You may wish to make flight reservations at this point. Before doing so, we recommend you make sure that you understand the viability of receiving your student visa on time (if applicable) and that you determine if there are any travel restrictions in place that will prevent you from entering your host country.
If/when you book your flights, be sure to read the airline’s cancellation/refund policy carefully to ensure that you fully understand it. We strongly advise opting into flight insurance if it is available to you. Make sure you also take COVID-19 testing/timing requirements and other entry/exit requirements into consideration when you are booking your flight. If you are unsure of what these requirements are, please consult your program.
Can I defer my study abroad plans to a later semester?
If you would like to petition to change your study abroad plans to a later semester, please inform our office by emailing us at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Will I need special vaccinations to go abroad?
Consult with your program provider and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tel. 1-800-232-4636 or TTY 1-888-232-6348, for information on any required or recommended vaccinations, as well as for any health advisories. 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, cholera, and malaria.
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:
International Travel Health Consultants
243 North Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.