Once you’re accepted into a study abroad program, you'll need to take care of predeparture details. Your home university, study abroad sponsor, or university abroad may provide instructions. If they do, be sure to soak up their advice and suggestions!
The following is a list of major areas requiring action from you before you leave the United States:
- Travel arrangements
- Power of attorney
- Absentee ballot
- Current housing
Your study abroad program may include the cost of airfare to and from your destination country. If your program does not include airfare, or if you've directly enrolled in a foreign university, you will need to make your own travel plans and reservations. Be aware that some countries may require you to show a round-trip ticket before allowing you to enter. For more information, check out www.statravel.org, a website devoted to student travel.
Power of Attorney
You may want to give a family member or trusted friend power of attorney while you're abroad. This is especially important if you receive financial aid. Your power of attorney would be able to endorse your financial aid checks and deposit them into your account.
If an election occurs while you are out of the U.S., you can still vote by absentee ballot as long as you are a registered voter before you leave and you apply for an absentee ballot.
If you are out of the country on the April 15 tax deadline, you can request an automatic extension for filing your tax returns (federal, state, and local). For federal tax returns, you may be able to get an automatic six-month extension. To do so, by April 15 you must file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return. For more information, visit the IRS website.
You'll need to make arrangements regarding your current housing situation. If you are living in a dorm, check with your college about dorm policies that apply to students studying abroad. If you are living off campus and your lease is in effect throughout the time you will be abroad, your options include paying your rent while you're gone, or subletting your space. Here are details on each option:
- Paying for your current housing: With this option you won’t have to move your items from your apartment. You keep all your possessions intact and have a place ready and waiting for you when you return. Although it’s the most convenient option, it also could be the most expensive.
- Subleasing your space: If you are bound by a lease, you might be able to sublease the space (another renter pays you the agreed-upon rent money and you forward it to the landlord/property owner). Check your lease to see if subleasing is an option. Even if the lease does not permit subleasing, talk with your property owner about making an exception. Especially if you've been a good tenant, your landlord may be willing to allow you to sublease for the period of time you’ll be abroad.
You will need to figure out how you will access your checking and savings account, exchange currency, and pay bills while you are overseas. Managing money while abroad has some good information on how to handle your finances while abroad.