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Office of International Programs

Study Abroad » FAQ

 

Finances

What do I need to budget for?

How much will I spend on living expenses?

Are there any other costs?

What is the exchange rate?

How much cash should I take?

How do I exchange money?

What is the best way for my family to send me money?

What are Travelers Checks and where can they be obtained/used?

Funding My Program

Will I receive financial aid?

Can I use financial assistance?

How does financial aid work when I study abroad?

Are there special scholarships for UTPA students studying abroad?

How much of my program should I expect a scholarship to cover?

Health and Safety

What if an emergency happens in the country I’m in?

Will UTPA contact my parents in the case of an emergency?

Do I need to purchase international insurance?

What does Medex cover?

Do I need to keep my US insurance while abroad?

What emergency services are available while I’m abroad?

What does International SOS offer?

Do I need to register for SOS?

Should I register with the local US Consulate? Why?

I am being treated for a medical condition. Can I study abroad?

I am a student with a disability. Can I study abroad?

How do I know if my condition can be treated abroad?

Are there any special requirements/suggestions for students with chronic medical or psychological problems?

Do I need any immunizations?

Do I need to take my medical records?

Holidays at Foreign International Universities

Do terms and semesters vary between schools?

What do I do when the school is on holiday?

When is the best time to have visitors?

Can I travel before/after/during the program?

Is travel recommended?

Where can I receive advice about travel?

Housing

Where do most students live? What is safest?

Can I pick my roommate?

Will I have roommates in a dorm or in an apartment? How many?

Can I have overnight visitors?

Are items like bedding and computers provided or do I need to take them?

Can I take my favorite pet?

 

   Frequently Asked Questions

Academics

Are all majors welcomed?

Program options may be limited with some majors. Please consult with your OIP advisor and Academic Advisor for more information.

Will UTPA accept all credits?

The University of Texas-Pan American recognizes all credits obtained through programs facilitated by the Office of International Programs facilitates. It is your responsibility to speak with your OIP and academic advisor to learn how/if your credit will apply to your degree plan.

How do I register?

You complete the OIP application for your summer/semester abroad during the semester prior to departure. We recommend you start your application as soon as you plan on studying abroad.

What if I missed my registration period?

You will need to contact OIP for more information.

How many classes are recommended?

During the fall and spring semesters, undergraduate students must be enrolled full time (12 hours) at their host institution. For summer programs, undergraduate student must take 6 hours per session. You will need to check with Financial Aid Services Students taking fewer than 12 hours during the semester or 6 hours during a summer session are not eligible for financial aid.

Will I have an orientation? 

You will have several orientations before your departure. These mandatory orientations will explain all you need to know about your experience abroad.

Will I have enough time outside the classroom to get to know other things, such as cultural places?

Yes. Some programs even arrange excursions to visit local attractions.

Can I study abroad more than once?
Yes. As long as you keep meeting the requirements and deadlines you are eligible for participating in any of our programs for no more than a two year period.

Application

How do I apply?

Follow the instructions shown in the Apply Now section.

What are the requirements?

Most programs require you have completed at least 30 credit hours with a 2.0 cumulative GPA as an undergraduate student. Must have sophomore status at the time of application. If you are a graduate student: 3.0 GPA. Should have a clear record and must be free of holds. Check language requirements for non–English speaking countries.

How much time in advance should I apply?

OIP recommends that you begin your application process at least 9 months before the semester in which you would like to participate for a long-term Program Abroad. Make sure you meet the deadlines requirements.

Can I apply if I am a transfer student?

Yes. You have to meet the requirements the semester before departure. Please contact UTPA Office of Admissions to confirm enrollment process. Confirmation of enrollment will be required when applying to a study abroad program.

Can graduate students go?

Yes, but the program may be limited. Consult the program director for eligibility prior to applying.

When is the application deadline?

Your application must be complete and submitted as soon as possible. Deadlines vary for each program. Due to various factors, deadlines change frequently, so check constantly the deadlines section for updates.

 When will I know if I’ve been accepted?

In most cases, you will be notified as soon as you submit complete application for short term program. For long term program please verify with your advisor.

Communication Abroad

How can I keep in touch with my family/friends while abroad?

The best, most cost-efficient, way to communicate will probably be via e-mail or an internet-based chat/talk program (e.g. IM, Skype). Most students will have cell phones, but using local calling cards will be less expensive. BEWARE: Making international calls or texting from cell phones can be extremely expensive! Determine a set day and time to talk regularly. Another way to communicate is via online social networking such as Myspace or Facebook.

Is it possible to call the US collect from abroad?

Yes, however, you must learn the local number to contact an operator.

How does the postal service work overseas?

Overseas post offices work basically the same as the US post office. In some locations, you will be able to send/receive UPS, FedEx and DHL while other countries have local equivalents.

Will I be able to communicate without having a firm grasp of the language?

It is always to a student’s advantage to know as much of the native language as possible; however, depending on the country it may not be a requirement. Depending on your willingness to learn and explore, you may have a very enjoyable time learning the culture and language of your host country. Some short-term Study Abroad programs offer elective courses in specific fields; in which case you do not need much language knowledge, asides from the basics. (Hello, goodbye, thank you, etc.) Additionally, tutors and language exchange programs may be available. You should explore the language support networks of your program. Learning the language beforehand will help you once you arrive. Language learning programs of all types are available at most bookstores and on the Internet.

In a Cultural Immersion Program, will I have trouble with the language?
Students who choose to go on language immersion programs generally are placed into the level most appropriate to their skills.

Credits

When will my credit be posted?

If you participate in a faculty led program, your credit will be posted to your UTPA academic record soon after grades are submitted to Registrar’s Office.

Affiliated or exchange credit normally posts within the long semester after your return from abroad. Every effort is made to ensure that this process occurs smoothly; however, there are steps a student can take to make sure there are no substantial delays. First, try to get all your courses evaluated before you return--waiting until after your return will slow things down considerably. Second, meet with your OIP advisor before you leave and upon returning to review your credit file and make sure that everything is in order (i.e., you’ll get the credits you need). Third, complete and return your re-entry evaluation after your program ends; your OIP advisor will not send your credit to post until you have completed the evaluation.

In some cases, credit is delayed not because of any mistakes on the student’s part, but because the exchange or affiliate partner is not able to provide a transcript immediately following a students’ term abroad. OIP will work with the student and the partner abroad to secure a transcript within a reasonable length of time.

How will I know what my credits are?

The OIP recommends that all students going abroad on affiliated or exchange programs review their course options overseas and determine if there are any UTPA equivalents. The OIP has a list of equivalents that have already been awarded. If the classes you want to take are not on this list, then you can work with UTPA’s departmental evaluators to determine what the best equivalents are for the classes you would like to take abroad. If you end up taking different classes from those you had evaluated prior to departure, you can still have these classes evaluated either while you are abroad or upon your return.

 

 

Finances

What do I need to budget for?

Faculty-led SA programs vary in prices and in what they include. Usually, accommodation, medical insurance, tuition and fees, OIP application fee, emergency deposit and faculty’s expenses constitute the “program fee” for some programs, this fee will also cover meals, local transportation, cultural visits or other expenses. The airfare is always the student’s responsibility.
Long-term programs vary greatly depending on the agreement in place for each country (if any.)
 Each program is different. In general you will pay for: program fees, tuition & books, airfare, local transportation, cell-phone, internet, printing, room & board and personal expenses. We also advise that you have at least $500 set aside for emergencies.

How much will I spend on living expenses?

This varies greatly by country. You will be given country-specific information during your mandatory orientations.

Are there any other costs?

You may need more money if you plan on traveling during weekends and/or breaks. Additional expenses may include: university-specific fees, excursions, rent deposits, and emergency costs.

What is the exchange rate?

To see a daily exchange rate of the U.S. Dollar to other currencies, go to: www.xe.com

How much cash should I take?

Ask your bank if it has an affiliation with a bank in that country. If it does, only withdraw from those ATMs. If it doesn’t, ask the rates for international withdrawal payments. Traveler’s checks, and cash are more at risk to be stolen.
ATMs can be found in most countries. A tourist guide for your country will give information on the location of ATM and banks in most major cities (where most cash can be exchanged for local currency). It is recommended that, upon arrival in the host country, you withdraw or exchange at least $50 into local currency. The total amount you will need for your stay varies greatly by country as well as lifestyle choices.

How do I exchange money?

The easiest way to get money is to use an ATM card with the VISA logo. Money retrieved will be in local currency. Full-service banks in the US can also exchange money for some currencies. There are also money-exchanges in most international airports. Overseas, local banks will exchange money (particularly in tourist or downtown areas).

What is the best way for my family to send me money?

Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs) or online banking transfers into your US account are the easiest and most secure way to deliver money to you while abroad. You can then go to the ATM and take out cash. Wires are also commonly used (Western Union, etc.), but charge a fee for their services. Before departure, determine 2 or 3 ways that funds can be sent.

What are Travelers Checks and where can they be obtained/used?

Travelers checks take the place of cash, and offer an additional level of security because cash can be retrieved if the travelers checks are lost or stolen. Travelers checks receive mixed opinions from students abroad because locations where the checks can be exchanged/spent are limited.

Funding My Program

Will I receive financial aid?

To be eligible for financial aid, you must fill out a FAFSA. For all official UTPA study abroad programs, your financial aid can be applied to the costs of your overseas program. The UTPA Office of Financial Aid will take into account the extra cost of studying abroad when calculating student aid packages for semesters abroad.

Can I use financial assistance?

Yes. Check with the Financial Aid Office for more information.

How does financial aid work when I study abroad?

Please contact Financial Aid for further information.

Are there special scholarships for UTPA students studying abroad?

Yes.OIP offers the International Education Fee Scholarship, while there are other departments, such as the International Women’s Board, that offer other scholarships.  All scholarships awarded to applicants can be found under the Scholarships section on the OIP website. There are general scholarships that everyone is eligible for and specific scholarships for certain countries or certain types of students.

How much of my program should I expect a scholarship to cover?

Unfortunately, there is not enough scholarship money for every student to receive a scholarship. Likewise, there are very few scholarships that award over $1,000 per student. As such there are very few students that have all of their cost covered in scholarships. Students need to understand that they will need to “piece together” funding from scholarship, loans and savings to cover the cost of their time abroad. Students can also ask OIP for “Sponsorship Forms” to collect from companies/private sponsors (it benefits them with a tax cut.)

Health and Safety

What if an emergency happens in the country I’m in?

The OIP is in communication with the U.S. Department of State and International SOS regarding emergencies. We are aware of the dangers of studying abroad in a Country under warning, which is why our programs are subject to the announcements made by the Security Offices mentioned above to prevent putting the students at risk. However, in such situations the student would have to call the American Embassy as soon as possible and follow their instructions. They will take the measures needed in order to protect our students. Students are provided with  orientation packets with specific information on the country they are visiting.

Will UTPA contact my parents in the case of an emergency?

A Federal Law called FERPA limits the information the OIP at UTPA can release without your prior written permission. All students are required to list at least one stateside emergency contact. In the event of an emergency, we will contact the emergency contact that you’ve listed.

Do I need to purchase international insurance?

No. It is included in the program cost. The cost depends on the length of the program and on the student’s age.

What does Medex cover?

MedEx covers sickness and accidents at 100% while out of the US. It also provides emergency medical reunion – if you are hospitalized for more than six days, travel and hotel for one individual is covered up to $3000. It also covers medical evacuation/repatriation and the return of mortal remains. The MedEx copy of insurance will be given to you prior to departure. We encourage you to read it thoroughly so you know your rights and benefits.

Do I need to keep my US insurance while abroad?

You need to take your MedEx Card and insurance hard copy with you at all times. Also, have a copy in your e-mail as a back-up. 

What emergency services are available while I’m abroad?

The quality of medical services varies greatly by country. In order to provide an appropriate standard of medical care to all UTPA students traveling abroad, the UTPA System has contracted with International SOS, a word-wide crisis management service covering all students while abroad.

What does International SOS offer?

SOS is not a medical insurance. SOS is a global team of medical and security experts that are available via 24-hour call centers located around the world. You can access a host of health and safety information. For example, if you are injured, you can call SOS collect to talk to a nurse or find the nearest English-speaking doctor. SOS also monitors and advises on unstable political situations and severe weather conditions.

Do I need to register for SOS?

Yes. All students must register their travel information as well as their medical file (visible only to doctors) as a safety precaution.

Should I register with the local US Consulate? Why?

No. Your advisor will register the whole group.

I am being treated for a medical condition. Can I study abroad?

In order to study abroad, you must get medical clearance from your treating medical practitioner and any specialists that you are seeing. Please discuss the implications of study abroad with your doctor(s).

I am a student with a disability. Can I study abroad?

We encourage students with disabilities to study abroad. Mobility International has resources to help you choose an appropriate program/location. In addition, please notify the Office of Disabilities on Campus and your OIP advisor/program coordinator of the accommodations you need.

How do I know if my condition can be treated abroad?

In addition to speaking with your doctor, please refer to the following organizations for additional information:

    * International SOS

    * UHS Travel Health

    * Center for Disease Control

    * US State Department

    * Travel Health Online

    * World Health Organization

Are there any special requirements/suggestions for students with chronic medical or psychological problems?

Students should consult with their physicians, psychologists and counselors extensively regarding study abroad plans. They should also self disclose to the program administrators about their circumstances. This will allow the program administrators to appropriately assist the students. Students should also continue their prescribed medications while abroad, which may mean bringing a supply sufficient for the duration of their trip.

Do I need any immunizations?

Immunization requirements and recommendations vary by country. When registering with International SOS, you will get the warning and requirements for your country. Please contact the UTPA Student Health Services at 956-381-2511. It specializes in international travel and can make suggestions. They can provide information on immunizations.

Do I need to take my medical records?

The best way to store medical records is in an International SOS Emergency Record. This makes them available 24-7 from anywhere in the world. Once entered, only International SOS medical practitioners can view this information.

Holidays at Foreign International Universities

Do terms and semesters vary between schools?

Just as schools in the US have varying schedules, universities around the world work on different academic calendars. Most universities have fall, spring, and summer sessions. You will have to look at important dates when considering a program.

What do I do when the school is on holiday?

You are free to travel during holidays or explore your host city. Check with the dorms or apartments; some of them might close during these times.

When is the best time to have visitors?

Consider the local weather, prices and your academic schedule. It can be better have visitors towards the end of your stay, when you’re most comfortable with your host city.

Can I travel before/after/during the program?

While you are free to travel in their free time, we recommend that you reserve travel for the second half of their time abroad as well as after the program. You are more comfortable with the country and culture thus making travel safer.

Is travel recommended?

Traveling while overseas is highly recommended and is quite safe, depending on the location of travel and travel companions. Travel in groups and stay in reputable hotels/hostels. E-mail your resident director as well as parents the specifics of your travel plans (when, where, what mode of transportation, with whom, which hotels).

Where can I receive advice about travel?

Local students and other acquaintances can be great resources for travel tips and suggestions. Traveling with local students can provide a unique, non-touristy experience. This approach is also quite safe, as a local is fluent in the local language and familiar with the culture and norms.

Housing

Where do most students live? What is safest?

Most students live in either on-campus housing or in off-campus apartments. Some, particularly in language programs, live with host-families. It is safest to live on campus, or in housing provided by the school. If you choose to find your own housing, you can ask the local staff for advice.

Can I pick my roommate?

For several of the Faculty-led Study Abroad programs, students can request to live together shortly before departure. For long-term Individual Programs it may vary. Please contact your Program Advisor.

Will I have roommates in a dorm or in an apartment? How many?

This will vary. To have a private room is more expensive. Depending on the school, you may live with local students or with other international students. It depends on the school’s dorm availability and costs.

Can I have overnight visitors?

Most dorms and home-stays do not allow overnight guests. It is best to refer guests to a hotel.

Are items like bedding and computers provided or do I need to take them?

Depending on the living situation, bedding/linens may need to be provided by the student along with most furnishings unless living in a dorm or furnished apartment. Computers may be accessed at internet cafés, libraries, etc. or you can bring your own.

Can I take my favorite pet?

No pets.

Passport/Visas

Do I need a passport?

Yes, you will need a passport valid for more than six months after the program ends. Many countries also require a minimum of 4 blank pages.

How do I get a passport?

For the latest information, see the Department of State’s website:

http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

Where do I get a passport?

You can go to the Edinburg TX Post Office at 410 S. Jackson Drive Edinburg, TX (956) 383-3866;
the City of Edinburg Secretary at 415 W. University Dr. Edinburg, TX (956) 388-8204;
or the Hidalgo Country District Clerk at 100 North Closner Edinburg, TX (956) 318-2200;
or find your nearest Passport Acceptance Facility following this link: http://iafdb.travel.state.gov/

When should I apply for my passport?

You should apply for your passport upon acceptance to the program. The process can be lengthy.

Do I need a visa?

For short SA programs, you usually do not need a visa. However, we encourage you to confirm this with your advisor. For long term SA programs, you will more than likely need one.

How do I get a visa?

Questions about visas should be directed to the US-based foreign consulate. Documents that you might need for a visa could include, but are not limited to: proof of funds (bank statement and/or financial aid reward letter), proof of US university enrollment (from the UT registrar’s office), proof of enrollment in a foreign institution, proof of immunizations, local address.

Will the OIP help me get a visa?

The OIP can issue proof of participation in a program as well as direct students to the proper consulate; however, we cannot advise students on the details of applying for a visas. This is because visas are issued by foreign governments whose requirements are constantly changing. The OIP simply cannot keep up with immigration laws for the eighty-some countries that we send students to.

I’m leaving in a week and my visa hasn’t come yet, can’t the OIP do something?

Unfortunately, the OIP does not have relationships with foreign governments to be able to intercede on behalf of the student.

Registration

How do I register for a study abroad program?

According to the program of your interest follow instructions on the Apply Now Section under Study Abroad (for Faculty-led short term), or on the Apply Now Section under Exchange Programs (for Individual Programs, long term)

How do I register for an exchange program?

Follow instructions on the Apply Now Section under Individual/Exchange/Visiting.

What if my registration is dropped?

If your registration has been dropped, it is probably due to non-payment. You need to re-register during your next registration access period and pay your tuition fees or affiliated studies fee by your payment deadline. OIP advisors will only drop students who have not been accepted to the program.

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