It happens to many students; you plan to study abroad a semester, then once you’re abroad you wish you could stay the entire year.
The good news is, you can! While there are some steps to take, any student can extend their semester abroad to a year, and we’re here to tell you exactly how.
First things first PLAN AHEAD! It’s easy to get busy and distracted while you’re abroad, and even though you’re already on a study abroad program, there are still a variety of documents and steps that need to be taken in order to stay longer. Once you know you’re ready, follow the steps below.
5 Steps to Extend Your Semester Abroad to a Year
1. Contact USAC
As soon as you think you may want to extend your study abroad, get in touch with your Resident Director if you’re participating in a specialty program, or your program advisor or enrollment specialist if you’re participating in a partnership program.
Eventually, you’ll be signing some documents and confirming your extension, but if you’re just thinking about staying abroad longer the RD can pass along useful information about extending your visa, program capacity, how much time you have to decide, etc.
When you are part of a specialty program, you’ll sign an “On-Site Program Change” form, that also gets signed by the RD, and then the RD will email the form to the USAC enrollment department.
Partnership students do not need to fill out the form. You simply email your program advisor or enrollment specialist and let them know you’d like to extend. We recommend talking to the host university abroad as well because they may have their own process for extending.
2. Contact Your Home University
The next step is to work out the extension with your home university. You’ll want to complete any course approval, financial aid, or other application processes in preparation for the upcoming semester.
USAC does not require that you pay another $100 application fee when you extend, but if you are student-billed (versus University billed), we require a $500 deposit before approving for a new term. Just like with an original application, the $500 will go toward your balance and is non-refundable.
3. Make Sure the Balance is Paid for Your Current Program
Before USAC will approve you to extend your program, you will need to have your current study abroad balance paid in full. If you’re unsure whether you owe money or not you can check your account balance in your gateway account or send an email to email@example.com.
4. Talk to Your Program Advisor About Extending Your Visa
If you plan on staying abroad you will need to extend your visa. Sometimes this can be taken care of while you’re abroad or you may need to travel to a consulate. Your program advisor, resident director, or university study abroad office will be able to point you in the right direction of where and how to extend your visa.
5. Pay Attention to Deadlines
If you’re already abroad then you know that the days go by fast and when you’re busy you may not pay attention to or miss emails from the USAC office regarding deadlines. The biggest setback that students experience when trying to extend to a yearlong is not having their documents turned in by the necessary deadline.
Of course you also want to make sure that you apply for scholarships, submit your financial aid, and pay your balance on time.
If you follow these steps you’ll have a smooth transition from one semester to the next. Don’t forget that you can also extend your program to a different location! USAC also offers a discount to students who extend from any program into a speciality program. The world is your oyster!