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Parents & Family

Student walking by Tori Shrines in Japan with umbrella

Parents & Family Members 

Dear family members, parents, and guardians,

Your student is about to embark on an experience of a lifetime, one that presents unique challenges and opportunities and requires independence and self-reliance. Year after year, we watch with admiration as students grow, engage in new ways, and accomplish amazing things. We believe strongly in the positive impact of education abroad on our students, our campus community, and our world as a whole. Consult our Why Go Abroad page for more insight.

We’re delighted to be a part of their experience and thank you for taking the time to learn more about how your support and encouragement can contribute to your student's academic and personal success on their program.

The Education Abroad staff at CU Boulder will work with your student to have a positive academic and cultural experience on their program. As part of their pre-departure preparation, your student will receive ample information related to their program and will have a number of tasks and pre-departure processes to complete. All of us here at Education Abroad, as well as their program and/or host university, are here to support them through the pre-departure process. However, they are responsible for being engaged and active in this process. 

We encourage you to discuss your students' program with them and invite you to review the information in our Accepted Student Guide. This Student Guide provides resources to help students prepare for a successful experience abroad and includes policies, timelines, and tasks that they are responsible for knowing and completing. In addition to the resources we've provided for your student, there are Frequently Asked Questions for parents and family as well as additional information below that you may find useful in helping your student prepare for this incredible opportunity. 

Education abroad is a unique educational experience for each and every student. We hope your student will have a successful and life-changing experience. We send our students off with much affection and best wishes.

Please contact us if we can be of service while your student is preparing for their program or while participating on their program.

Education Abroad Staff
University of Colorado Boulder

Información para Padres y Familia -Información para hispanohablantes sobre el proceso y el rol que juega la familia en apoyando su estudiante para estudiar en el extranjero.


The safety of your student during their education abroad program is our utmost concern. We are regularly assessing the health and safety risks posed to our students on each and every program, and take guidance from a number of resources; a list of channels is outlined within our Assessment of Education Abroad Programs.

We believe the best strategy for ensuring students’ health and safety during their program requires collaboration among students, parents/guardians, and our professional staff. Education Abroad will provide students with extensive program- and location-specific health and safety information, contact with program providers, and on-site staff knowledgeable in the area. While on their program, students have access to on-site staff for assistance and our 24-hour emergency phone. 


The types of costs associated with participating on an education abroad program are very similar to the costs associated with studying at CU Boulder. Students will need to pay for tuition, fees, room, board, insurance, books, supplies, personal expenses, and transportation costs that are specific to their particular program. Some of these costs will be included in the program fee and will be charged to the student's Bursar account; other costs not included in the program fee are the responsibility of the student. The Program Costs page provides an exact program fee and what it covers, an estimate of other program costs, and withdrawal fees and deadlines. Financial aid may be used on CU Boulder education abroad programs and numerous scholarships are available. Find more information related to finances and costs within the relevant web pages of the Accepted Student Guide.


Programs offered by CU Boulder Education Abroad have all been vetted and approved by the Education Abroad Committee, the faculty body appointed to oversee academic policy on all education abroad programs. With proactive planning and flexibility, students can remain on track with their degree requirements during their education abroad program. Students and family members can review what courses may already be approved to fulfill CU degree requirements on our programs by reviewing Course Approvals List and can submit new courses for evaluation throughout the planning process as well.  Find more information related to courses and credit within the relevant web pages of the Accepted Student Guide.

Privacy Considerations 

Education Abroad must abide by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). FERPA protects your student’s educational records and limits the information that can be discussed with anyone – even you as family– unless your student specifically allow you to access their information. Wherever possible, we encourage you to have your student take responsibility for their education abroad experience. However, while your student is abroad, you may want to talk to the Education Abroad, Office of Financial Aid, or Bursar’s Office, if problems arise with bills, registration, or financial aid. Your student can complete a FERPA release which allows an authorized third party (e.g., a parent or guardian) to contact the university (including Education Abroad) on their behalf and discuss their academic and/or financial records.


Federal privacy laws prevent us from sharing certain information unless your student has given us written permission to do so. However, we attempt to share as much general information as possible on our website. You can access program information, read materials for outgoing students, view a sample financial contract, and much more. We encourage students to share all of the information they receive with you!

Education abroad is the exciting pursuit of educational opportunities in another country. Students can go abroad during a summer, semester, year, or even during winter break and earn credit toward their degrees at CU Boulder. There are many different program features, which provide different opportunities within the program and affect what a student's day-to-day experience is like.

At the University of Colorado Boulder, over 30% of students who enter the university as first-year students and graduate attend an education abroad program. This number is expected to grow as the university puts a high priority on international experience for students in its Flagship 2030 Strategic Plan. Nationwide, approximately 10% of college students go abroad.

There are many reasons why your student should go abroad:

  • Your student will earn credit towards their degree, learn and build skills for a future career, be able to put an impressive experience on a resume, learn a new language or continue studying one, experience a new way of living and learning, step out of a comfort zone, and learn skills they would not otherwise learn.
  • Education abroad is a transformational experience for students. Most students feel that education abroad changes their lives, provides meaningful direction, and opens doors to future opportunities and successes they hadn't thought possible. For instance, one study showed that students who go abroad have greater future earning potential than students who did not go abroad.
  • "We have seen tremendous growth in our daughter as a result of her education abroad experience in Italy. Her studies and experiences allowed her to master the Italian language and develop a passion for European culture and the European lifestyle. The experience has been invaluable to her college education." - Quote from the father of a returned CU Boulder education abroad student.

Education abroad will not necessarily set your student back from graduating in four years. In fact, a recent analysis showed that CU Boulder students who go abroad graduated at the same speed as students who did not go abroad. Your student can earn credit toward their degree while abroad, including major, minor, certificate, core and elective credit. Ideally, your student will start planning at least a year in advance. Your students should work closely with their Academic Advisor in addition to the Education Abroad office.

Your student should go abroad when it best fits their schedule. While many students go abroad during junior year, what is best for each student varies. There are some programs open to eligible students the summer after their first-year, many programs open to eligible students with sophomore standing, and some programs that require junior standing.

There are hundreds of CU Boulder-approved education abroad programs, so your student has a lot of options! We encourage students to find a program that is a great fit for him/her while taking into consideration factors like courses offered, location, program type, cost, etc. Our programs are generally in one of three categories: affiliated programs through education abroad organizations, faculty-led Global Seminars, and exchanges/other partnerships.

The benefits of CU Boulder programs are many, and include earning CU Boulder credit, the ability to use federal/institutional/state financial aid, and more.

If a student cannot find a program that fits their needs through CU Boulder, they are welcome to consider non-approved programs. However, if a student studies abroad on a non-approved program, they must apply to transfer the credit back to CU Boulder and they become ineligible for federal, institutional, and state financial aid.

If your student is interested in learning more or is ready to get started, your student should complete Abroad 101. Through Abroad 101 students learn about reasons for going abroad, differences between CU Boulder and non-CU Boulder programs, program types, housing options, major/minor credit, College of Arts & Sciences core, credits, grades, eligibility requirements, the application process, deadlines and graduation information. There is also an overview of the financial aspects of education abroad, including program costs and financial aid.

We provide a variety of services to students before, during, and after their education abroad experience. Examples include:

  • Advising and resources to select the program most suitable for your student
  • Assistance through the application process
  • Assistance with determining how credits earned abroad may help your student fulfill their CU Boulder degree requirements
  • Connection with a program manager who is an expert on your student's program
  • Resources on how to obtain a passport and/or visa
  • Assistance in working with various CU Boulder administrative offices
  • Advising regarding opportunities and pathways for financing education abroad
  • Continued registration as a full-time student at CU Boulder
  • Provision of pre-departure preparation and resources

The cost of going abroad varies by program. Some programs are similar (sometimes less!) to the cost of studying in Boulder, and others are more. Read much more on our Education Abroad Finances page.

  • Choose a program that fits your budget
  • Consider exchange programs
  • Apply to scholarships
  • Use federal, state, and/or institutional aid (e.g. Pell Grants, institutional grants, Stafford loans, PLUS loans, etc.)
  • Apply for private loans, etc.

Read more about funding opportunities on the Education Abroad Finances page.

In addition to this page, you have access to the Accepted Student Guide and many other resources on our website. You are also welcome to our virtual Pre-Departure Orientation Part 1: Start Packing held on Zoom each semester. The only thing you can't see without a log-in is your student's application checklist (which includes pre-departure resources and information). Ask them to share this information with you if necessary. Additionally, if your student is going abroad with an education abroad organization (ISA, CIEE, TEAN, SIT, CEA CAPA, etc.), that organization will have resources for parents as well.

It is not recommended to visit your student during their program, but is definitely encouraged to visit afterwards.

Please check with your student's program as in some cases visitors are not allowed at all.

We also strongly recommend that at least one parent or guardian have a valid passport while your student is abroad. (This would be a critical piece if your student has an emergency and you wish to travel to be with them in a time of need.)

An education abroad organization or program provider is an organization that we partner with which organizes education abroad programs. Examples of program providers are Arcadia, CAPA, CIEE, ISA, IES, SIT, Syracuse, etc. Program providers have on-site staff to assist if there is an emergency, help students register for classes, coordinate housing, provide support for students' academic and personal needs, and much more. Providers are a great resource for answering site-specific questions like "In which neighborhood are the host families?" or "How will a vegetarian fare on this program?" Not all programs are with providers. We also have great direct exchange/other partnership programs and faculty-led Global Seminars.

The personal safety of your student while he or she is abroad is of extreme importance both to you and to Education Abroad. We take very seriously the role of preparing students through pre-departure orientations here in Boulder, extensive resource guides, contact with program providers, and on-site staff knowledgeable in the area. While your student is abroad, they will have access to on-site staff for assistance as well as our 24-hour emergency telephone. Note that staff in the Education Abroad office monitor updates on health and safety issues around the world that are issued by the U.S. Department of State, and take these into consideration when determining where to offer programs. Although most trips abroad are trouble-free, being prepared will go a long way in avoiding the possibility of serious trouble. Read more in the Accepted Student Guide, or see the Health & Safety FAQ.

We'd love to speak with you! You can contact us from 9:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday by calling 303-492-7741 or emailing If you are in Boulder you are also welcome to come by during business hours to meet with an Education Abroad Advisor in person. You can also view our Contact Us page and reach out to the appropriate regional advisor directly. 

Last updated January 2024