FAQs for Students

1. What are the minimum application requirements?

GPA: All applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0; however, students with a lower GPA may be considered. Non-native English-speaking students must have taken the TOEFL exam within the last two years and earned a composite score of 600+ or have taken the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa ELI placement exam.

Academic references: All applicants must submit college-level faculty academic references

  • semester: three academic; or two academic + one from an employer or supervisor
  • summer: two academic

Transcript: First-year college students must submit a high school transcript, and an academic progress report from each of their current college instructors. Transfer students with records that do not appear on their STAR report must submit a transcript from each college and/or university attended.

Language proficiency: Programs that do not offer first-year language or coursework in English will require prior background; please check individual programs for admission requirements.

2. When are the application deadlines?

Summer: February 17th

Academic Year-in-Japan: March 1st

Fall: April 1st

Spring: October 15th (Kobe, Japan: Oct. 1)

All applications must be physically received by the UHM Study Abroad Center by 4:30 pm. Deadlines are firm–no extensions or exceptions. Incomplete or late applications will not be reviewed.

3. The deadline falls on a Saturday. When should I turn in my application?

If any of the above dates falls on a holiday or weekend, the deadline will be moved to the business day before or after, at the discretion of the Study Abroad Center. The correct deadline will be posted on the website.

For example: Oct. 15, 2017 falls on Sunday; the deadline is therefore postponed to Monday, Oct. 16.

4. Does my Teaching Assistant (TA) count as an instructor for my reference?

Yes.

5. What if I turn in my application on time, but my reference(s) is/are late?

Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Applicants must take the responsibility to allow enough time for references to be completed and submitted, and follow up accordingly.

6. May I turn in more than the required number of references?

Yes. To allow for references that are not submitted by the deadline, having back-ups is recommended.

7. Do my teachers have to mail in their reference forms/letters?

No. Referees are welcome to drop off their reference forms/letters in person at the Study Abroad Center or send them via Campus Mail. Please allow for delivery time, holidays, etc., when sending reference forms by USPS or Campus Mail. Referees may also fax their reference forms and letters of recommendation to 808.956.9319, and follow up with the originals in the mail.

Applicants may turn in reference forms/letters for their teachers as long as each confidential form/letter is sealed in an envelope by the referee.

Please see question #5 regarding the timeliness of references.

8. Would my chances of being accepted into a Study Abroad program increase if I turn in my application early?

While students are encouraged to apply early, or at least start the application process early, applications will not be reviewed until the after the deadline.

9. Who reviews my application?

A panel of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa faculty members will evaluate applications.

10. How may I pay for the application fee?

We only accept payment by cash, personal check, money order or cashier’s check. Credit/debit cards are not accepted.

11. I don’t have a passport. Should I expedite my passport application before I submit my study abroad application?

It depends on the program and the country’s visa requirements. Students applying for the following programs who are U.S. citizens should have their passport in hand by the application deadline, to enable applying for a student visa in a timely manner:

Semester/Year programs: Adelaide, Delhi, Florence, Kobe, Machida, Paris, Rome, Seville, Shanghai, Italy: “Three Cities”.

12. Do I need to apply for a student visa for my study abroad program?

For U.S. passport holders, it depends on the program and the country’s student visa requirements; international students should research information pertaining to the host country’s entry requirements, as they may have different requirements from U.S. passport holders.

Note: All students applying for a semester or longer in Paris, France must apply for a student visa in person at the Consulate General of France that oversees the state or area of their residence. (i.e. Hawai’i residents must apply in person at the consulate in San Francisco.)

13. When and how will I know if I have been accepted into the program?

The UHM Study Abroad Center will notify applicants by email, approximately two weeks after the deadline, with detailed instructions for confirming their spots in the program, registration, and a schedule of mandatory pre-departure training sessions.

Upon acceptance into the Study Abroad program, students are required to pay a non-refundable $500* initial payment to ensure a place in the program, which will be applied to the program fees. Applicants for the year program in Machida, Japan have a $1000 non-refundable initial payment. By paying this non-refundable initial payment, students are committing to be liable for 50% of the balance of the program fees, which are enforced, regardless if students withdraw or are expelled. The terms and conditions are outlined clearly in the Refund, Withdrawal Policies & Schedule of Payments document, included with the acceptance letter. Students must read, acknowledge and initial every clause of this contract, when submitting the other acceptance paperwork and paying the non-refundable initial payment. No exceptions will be granted.

*All programs require a $500 initial payment upon acceptance.  The initial payment for the year program in Machida, Japan only is $1,000.

14. What are your advising hours?

The UHM Study Abroad Center is open for advising 9:00am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday. The office is closed on weekends, and all State and Federal holidays.

1. Do I pay UHM tuition in addition to the program costs if I study abroad? 

No. Instead of UHM tuition, students pay a study abroad fee, which depends on the number of UHM credits earned on a study abroad program (6 credits during the summer; 12 credits during the semester; 24 credits over a year).

2. Does it cost more to study abroad?

The answer may be surprising. Take a look at this comparison of the cost of attendance at UH Mānoa and for studying abroad.

3. Does financial aid apply to study abroad programs?

Yes. Eligible students may receive financial aid, which may cover the entire cost of attendance for all study abroad programs, including room, board, books, tuition, airfare, and excursions/field trips. However, it will not cover personal expenses. Further, financial aid may be adjusted and/or delayed due to courses starting later than the normal semester and/or if registration on-site is delayed. Therefore, we strongly recommend that students plan ahead and bring enough money to cover meals for at least the first two weeks. For more information on financial aid, please visit University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Financial Aid Services.

4. Is financial aid free money?

No. Financial aid is a combination of loans and grants depending on eligibility. Loans must be paid back. Grants, on the other hand, are essentially free money, but are not widely available and only offered to certain qualified students.

5. Will I receive financial aid for a summer program?

Students who are receiving financial aid or have requested financial aid during the spring term prior to the summer study abroad program may be eligible to receive summer financial aid.

6. How many credits do I need to carry to receive financial aid?

Undergraduate students must enroll in a minimum of 6 credits for the summer, and 12 credits for the semester.
Graduate students must enroll in a minimum of 4 credits for the summer, and 8 credits for the semester.

7. If I am receiving financial aid, must I pay the non-refundable initial payment if I am accepted to the program?

Yes. The initial payment is required of all accepted students, regardless of financial status. The balance of the program payment, including airfare (only when booking flights arranged by the Study Abroad Center) can then be deferred until students receive financial aid.

Students receiving financial aid must submit a notarized Promissory Note, furnished upon acceptance by the Study Abroad Center, to the Study Abroad Center to defer payment. The Promissory Note must be signed and initialed in the presence of a notary public. Once notarized, the note becomes a legal document. Most law firms and financial institutions (banks and credit unions) offer notary services, but it is strongly recommended to call ahead to make sure a notary public is available and/or to make an appointment.

8. What if, by the end of the program, I do not clear the balance owed for my program?

A financial hold will be placed on financially delinquent students’ UHM record until the balance is cleared. Accounts which remain unpaid for an extended period of time will be sent to a collections agency.

9. Are scholarships available to fund my study abroad program?

UHM Study Abroad Center has a list of various scholarships, some through UHM, some under the UH-System, and others with outside agencies.

10. I am not a UHM student. Can I still apply for UHM Study Abroad scholarships and Financial Aid?

Only UHM students are eligible for scholarships offered by the UHM Study Abroad and UHM financial aid. Non-UHM students must apply for financial aid at their home institution, and can consult the list of scholarships that are not restricted to UHM students.

11. Where/how do I pay my study abroad balance?

With a credit card via MyUH portal or in person at the Cashier’s Office (Queen Liliʻuokalani Center for Student Services, Room 105). Make sure to select the appropriate term/charges when making payments; otherwise, they may be applied to the default term and not toward study abroad charges. For other options, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu/records/bill.html#pay

1. DO I RECEIVE UHM RESIDENT CREDITS OR TRANSFER CREDITS FOR COURSEWORK I TAKE ABROAD?

Coursework completed abroad equates to UHM resident credits. These credits will apply toward major, minor, certificate, graduation, elective, general education and/or focus requirements or focus exemption.

2. CAN I TAKE COURSES as CRedit/No Credit?

All coursework will be taken with A-F letter grades only, unless a particular course in the UHM catalog specifies CR/NC. No exceptions.

3. HOW WILL I BE GRADED OVERSEAS? HOW WILL THIS BE RECORDED ON MY UHM TRANSCRIPT?

Students will be graded according to the target country’s grading criteria. The grades received will then be converted to the UHM grade system using the nationally standardized grading scale. The final converted grades will be reported on MyUH and factored into students’ cumulative grade point average.

4. MUST I TAKE THE UHM RESIDENT FACULTY DIRECTOR’S COURSE?

For semester programs with an appointed teaching UHM Resident Director, all participants must take at least one of his/her courses. Exceptions will not be made. Other courses will be taken from the host institution. With regular summer programs, the course offered by the teaching UHM Resident Director is optional.

5. WILL I BE IN CLASSES WITH LOCAL STUDENTS?

The composition of students will depend on the program and class. Students studying French as a second language, as an example, will not have native speakers as classmates. Content classes taught in English or in the target language may have a mix of international students.

6. WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD OF FAILING A CLASS?

Students with poor attendance records, who fail to turn in assignments, score poorly on assignments, quizzes or exams, or otherwise unsatisfactorily meet class requirements will receive a grade commensurate with their academic performance.

7. IF I RECEIVE A LOW GRADE OVERSEAS, CAN THIS BE CHANGED AT UHM?

No. Grades will be reported, based on the final conversion of overseas grades to the UHM grading system. Changing grades without a valid reason or documented explanation is considered academic fraud. Grade disputes must be resolved with instructors overseas.

1. Can I arrange my own accommodations?

No. All regularly offered Study Abroad Center programs include mandatory program housing; deviating from this arrangement is not possible. Students who propose an independent self-designed study abroad program determine their own housing as part of their application.

2. What kind of housing is provided?

It depends on the program. Most programs offer homestay accommodations, where participants live and take most meals with the host family. Some programs offer dormitory-style accommodations, while living with local and/international students.

3. Can I change accommodations upon arrival?

It is permitted only in certain instances concerning heath and safety. For homestay students, if the request to change accommodation is granted, they will be provided with a different host family. With dormitory/apartment students, if the request to change accommodation is granted, they will be moved to another unit. Changes from a host family to a dormitory/apartment, or vice versa, are not allowed.

4. When should I arrive? Will housing accommodate an early check-in?

Students can only move in on the official arrival date, as stated in the acceptance letter.

5. Will someone receive me at the airport?

A pick-up will be arranged for group arrival designated by the Study Abroad Center. Students arriving on their own schedule will be given directions to the accommodations.

Below are answers to commonly asked questions by students whose applications to study abroad have been accepted.

1. I am receiving financial aid. Must I pay the $500* non-refundable initial payment?

Yes. The initial payment is required of all accepted students, regardless of financial status. The balance of the program payment, including airfare (only if traveling on the flights arranged by the Study Abroad Center) can then be deferred until students receive financial aid.

2. Where can I get my Promissory Note/visa document notarized?

Yes. The initial payment is required of all accepted students, regardless of financial status. The balance of the program payment, including airfare (only when booking flights arranged by the Study Abroad Center) can then be deferred until students receive financial aid.

Students receiving financial aid must submit a notarized Promissory Note, furnished upon acceptance by the Study Abroad Center, to the Study Abroad Center to defer payment. The Promissory Note must be signed and initialed in the presence of a notary public. Once notarized, the note becomes a legal document. Most law firms and financial institutions (banks and credit unions) offer notary services, but it is strongly recommended to call ahead to make sure a notary public is available and/or to make an appointment.

notary public (or notary or public notary) of the common law is a public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and foreign and international business. A notary’s main functions are to administer oaths and affirmations, take affidavits and statutory declarations, witness and authenticate the execution of certain classes of documents, take acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances, protest notes and bills of exchange, provide notice of foreign drafts, prepare marine or ship’s protests in cases of damage, provide exemplifications and notarial copies, and perform certain other official acts depending on the jurisdiction. Any such act is known as a notarization.

3. Why can’t I use a personal check to pay for the $500* non-refundable initial payment?

A personal check is not a secure form of payment. A cashier’s check/money order, on the other hand, is “pre-paid”, so they are more trustworthy than a personal check.

4. What is the difference between a cashier’s check and a money order, and where can I get one?

cashier’s check or bank draft is issued and guaranteed by a bank; the funds are usually taken out of the customer’s account. Each bank may charge a fee to issue a cashier’s check/bank draft. Other names for cashier’s check include bank check and teller’s check.

money order may be purchased for a fee from the United States Postal Service (USPS), at 7-11, Safeway or Wal-Mart. Common money orders are Western Union and MoneyGram. You may be able to purchase a money order with a debit card.

See examples below and fill in the information as shown.

money order cashier's check samples

5. I paid the $500* initial payment yesterday, but I just found out that I will not be able to go. May I have my $500* back?

The $500* initial payment is non-refundable.

Also, by paying this non-refundable initial payment, students have committed to be liable for 50% of the balance of the program fees, which are enforced, whether due to withdrawal or expulsion from the program. The terms and conditions are outlined clearly in the Refund, Withdrawal Policies & Schedule of Payments document, included with the acceptance letter.

Students must read, acknowledge and initial every clause of this contract before turning in the paperwork and paying the non-refundable initial payment. No exceptions will be granted.

6. I have to attend class/go to work during the scheduled pre-departure orientation meetings. May I be excused?

No. All students who have been accepted to the program are required to attend, and stay for the entire duration of, four mandatory pre-departure class sessions totaling 12 hours. Much information will be covered at these orientation sessions, including, but not limited to, academics, health and safety, culture, cross-cultural communication, and excursions. Failure to attend will result in students being withdrawn from the program.

  • If you have a UHM class that conflicts with orientation, please let your Study Abroad advisor know immediately. Unexcused absences and/or tardiness will result in students being withdrawn from the program. No exceptions will be granted.
  • If you have to work, please contact your supervisor and request time off or re-arrange your work schedule to attend all of these orientation meetings. Please give your supervisor enough time to re-arrange the work schedule to accommodate you.

A study abroad advisor can write a note for you to present to your instructor or work supervisor.

  • If you do not live on O’ahu, your advisor will schedule your orientation(s) via email, phone or Skype.

7. Who should I ask to be my witness?

A witness may be anyone over 18 years old. Any staff member at the Study Abroad Center can also act as a witness. The witness must watch (hence, witness) you sign your name on the document before signing his or her name and dates the document.

8. What kind of casual photo should I use with my letter to the host family?

This should be a clear image of you with scenery, family and/or friends, but nothing that could be viewed as distasteful or risqué. Examples of an appropriate casual photo include: a family portrait you used for holiday greeting cards, you and your friends having a BBQ at the park, you and your pet(s), you volunteering with your friends, etc. Please be mindful of who will see the photo you submit; a good first impression is very important. If in doubt, toss it out!

9. What are the requirements for the ID-size photos?

The ID-size photos should be:

  • Printed in color, in high resolution, on photo quality paper
  • 1½ by 2 inches in size; passport size photos (2″ x 2″) are acceptable as well (unless otherwise specified)
  • Taken within the last 6 months to reflect your current appearance
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background
  • Taken in full-face view directly facing the camera (make sure your face is not obstructed)
  • Taken with a neutral facial expression and both eyes open
  • Taken in clothing worn on a daily basis (remove hats, headphones and wireless devices, and other clothing or items obstructing any part of your face and head)

Here are some examples of acceptable and unacceptable photos. (Click to enlarge and see in detail.)

acceptableunacceptable unacceptable 3unacceptable2

10. Where/how do I pay my study abroad balance?

With a credit card via MyUH portal or in person at the Cashier’s Office (Queen Liliʻuokalani Center for Student Services, Room 105). Make sure to select the appropriate term/charges when making your payments; otherwise, they may be applied to the default term and not toward study abroad charges. For other options, visit https://manoa.hawaii.edu/records/bill.html#pay

*All programs require a $500 initial payment upon acceptance.  The initial payment for the year program in Machida, Japan only is $1,000.

What is the difference between a Study Abroad program and an Exchange program?

The basic idea is the same–studying in another country. View the matrix below for specific differences.

Study Abroad Programs Exchange Programs
Offered Through UHM Study Abroad Center (UHMSAC) Mānoa International Exchange (MIX)
Who can participate Primarily undergraduate students but graduate students may participate. Open to all majors. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Some exchange agreements are for students with specific majors.
Course offerings Take one class from the UHM Faculty Resident Director (semester/year programs) and the rest from the overseas university. Study with the main student body of the overseas campus. Take all classes from the overseas university. Study with the main student body of the overseas campus.
Credits earned Guaranteed UHM credits for each course taken overseas, applicable toward UHM degrees. Courses fulfill major, minor, focus, foreign language and graduation requirements. Transfer non-resident credits, which may or may not apply toward a Mānoa degree.
Fees No UHM tuition is charged, but a flat study abroad fee is assessed: $1764 for semester or $768 for summer.Negotiated subsidized tuition is paid to the overseas campus. UHM students are registered as full-time students at Mānoa in a place-holder course and pay UHM tuition based on the student’s residency status (Fall 2013 tuition – resident: $4,952; non-resident: $13,736).No tuition is paid to the overseas campus.
Financial Aid Eligible students can use Financial Aid to fund the full cost of the program, which includes tuition, housing, meals, books, airfare, excursions and ground transportation. The Study Abroad Center provides a detailed budget to UHM Financial Aid Services. Financial Aid is available for eligible students. Students are responsible to submit a budget to Financial Aid Services.
Payments All payments, such as for overseas tuition housing, meals, excursions, airfare, etc., are done by the Study Abroad Center on behalf of each student. Student are responsible for paying their own housing, meals, airfare, books, and all costs associated with living and studying abroad to the appropriate persons/institutions.
Costs Cost breakdown shows what students are paying, without any hidden or unforeseen or unplanned costs upon arrival. Except for UHM tuition, students must plan for all expenses to be paid overseas. In-country costs after arrival may be higher than originally budgeted.
Travel and visa arrangements Student visa is facilitated by the Study Abroad Center. Students can take the flights arranged by the Study Abroad Center. Students are responsible for all travel and visa arrangements.
Housing arrangements Housing is guaranteed. Students are responsible for their own housing.
Faculty mentoring UHM Faculty mentoring throughout the duration of the program for facilitatingstudying and living abroad. Students are on their own.

Many students think that studying abroad is something they could never do. They would love to have the experience, but think it is out of reach for them. There is a common misconception that Study Abroad programs are too expensive, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, for some students, studying abroad is actually less expensive than a regular semester at UH Mānoa . This is especially the case for non-resident students. But even for students who pay resident tuition, the cost of many UHM Study Abroad Center programs is comparable to the cost of enrolling in a regular semester at UH Mānoa .

Cost comparison information

First, let’s compare the cost of attending a semester at UH Mānoa to a semester abroad in Delhi, India, the least expensive program offered by the Study Abroad Center. Even adding in round-trip airfare from Honolulu to Delhi (estimated at $1,800), a semester in Delhi is markedly less expensive for non-resident students than a semester at UH Mānoa . Also take into consideration that the Delhi semester program includes health insurance, use of a mobile phone, airport pick-up, and local arts and cultural visits, all features that are not part of a regular semester at UH Mānoa .

Even the UHM Study Abroad Center’s most expensive semester program in Copenhagen, Denmark, is less expensive for non-resident students than staying at UH Mānoa, and it includes two course-integrated study tours, one within and another outside Denmark.

Still not convinced? Consider the Semester in London, England program: tuition, housing and meals in London are altogether only a little under $1300, which may be more than staying at UH Mānoa , but you get so much more for your money – you get to live in London, a one-of-a-kind, cosmopolitan, exciting city.

Remember that financial aid, scholarships, grants, and loans can all be applied toward the cost of studying abroad, and UHM Financial Aid Services will even adjust aid amounts based on the study abroad budget.

So don’t automatically think that you cannot afford to study abroad. Check it out, get the facts, and you may be surprised!

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