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Parents of Columbia Students

The process of pursuing a study abroad program is an exciting experience for students and their families, and the Office of Global Programs wishes to thank the parents of study abroad students for providing support in making the opportunity to study overseas a reality. The Office is available to assist students and their families throughout the study abroad experience and is happy to answer any questions and address any concerns pertaining to student experiences. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When can my son or daughter go abroad?

Columbia students usually go abroad for a semester or full year as juniors. 

Where can my son or daughter go abroad?

Students may attend Columbia-sponsored programs or Columbia-approved programs. The Columbia programs which are listed on this website have been reviewed and approved by members of the relevant Columbia departments.

How can I find out if my son or daughter needs any vaccinations or medications?

Students should always check with their doctors and the Centers for Disease Control for the health steps they are required to take before going abroad. Students who need to take medication must either bring sufficient medication for the duration of their trip abroad, or bring a doctor's prescription which identifies the medication by its generic name in order to have the prescription filled while abroad.

Does my son or daughter need special health insurance?

Students must have health insurance in order to study abroad. Students who lack health insurance are not permitted under any circumstance to study abroad. Several options exist for students who are seeking coverage: some study abroad programs provide participating students with health insurance, some students may have insurance coverage extended to them according to the health insurance plans of their parents, and some students may elect to continue their enrollment in the Columbia health insurance program. If your student opts for Columbia health insurance while abroad, he or she must enroll online at Health Services even if he or she was covered the previous semester. Columbia health insurance coverage is not automatic when a student studies abroad. You can reach Health Services with any questions at 212-854-3286 or email them at

How do I know if where my son or daughter will be staying is safe?

The Office of Global Programs places the highest level of priority on the safety and security of Columbia students who are pursuing study abroad programs. The staff of the Office of Global Programs conducts a mandatory pre-departure meeting which includes information on health, safety, and security concerns; advice on minimizing exposure to risk; and instructions on dealing with crises.

Each of Columbia's programs have staff on-site who are available to deal with emergencies and as follow the protocol in communicating with the home institutions of students. The Office of Global receives up-to-date information in the form of travel warnings and travel safety information updates from the U.S. Department of State, and provides a link to the State Department as part of the Resources-Health & Safety section on the Study Abroad Web site.  In addition, all Columbia students automatically hold emergency and repatriation service from ISOS. Students should make sure to pick up their cards from the Office of Global Programs.

What should my son or daughter need to do in order to obtain a visa?

Every student must have an up-to-date passport and should apply for a visa as early as possible. International students should contact the International Student office to make sure they have appropriate visa forms, as well as the forms needed in order to re-enter the United States.

More information is available on the Resource-Visa & Passports section of this web site.

What bills are we responsible for paying?

CC & SEAS: Students who are receiving academic credit for their study abroad programs remain enrolled at Columbia College or The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and continue to pay tuition at the Columbia rate. Students will be billed by Columbia at the usual time, and the bill will be sent to the student's permanent billing address. In turn, Columbia covers the academic costs of the study abroad program. Students and their families are responsible for all other costs associated with the study abroad program, including airfare, room and board, and all other expenses. 
GS: Students who receive academic credit for a term abroad will pay the academic costs of their program, plus a $750 GS administration fee. 
Some scholarships are available, and students are encouraged to research their eligibility. In addition, students and their families should contact individual host programs to explore scholarship options.

Will my son or daughter still receive financial aid while abroad?

Students who are eligible for financial aid will continue to receive aid while they are abroad. Students must make appointments to see their financial aid advisors prior to registering for study abroad programs to discuss the details of their package. GS aid may not be eligible for certain non-Columbia programs.

What happens if there is an emergency?

As soon as students are settled abroad, their parents must make sure that they have the correct phone numbers and contact information, as well as phone numbers for the on-site staff and directors of the study abroad program. In the case of a family emergency, parents should contact the Office of Global Programs at Columbia, which is available to assist students and their families in making any of the arrangements needed in order to address emergency situations.

How can I be sure that my son or daughter has taken care of all necessary preparation to go abroad?

The Office of Global Programs has compiled a checklist of items for students and their families to consider prior to their year or semester overseas. This checklist should be used as a guideline to ensure that students are fully prepared for their study abroad experiences.