Before You Go

Main Content

Before you go explores the steps you need to undertake before going abroad, including application, registration, passports and visas, financial aid and scholarships, health and safety and orientation.

How do I apply for study abroad?

All students initially apply through SIU Study Abroad Programs, either directly for the faculty-led Global Seminars or complete the advising application for all other programs. Each individual external program or study abroad organization will have their own application. These may be in the form of a printed application, a downloadable application or an on-line application. In all cases, the application—or a copy if you apply on-line—must be turned in to SIU Study Abroad Programs. 

How do I get a Passport? 

Passports are required for all programs. Applications are available from Study Abroad Programs, the main Post Office located near the University Mall or by download from the State Department. Please see the forms for comprehensive directions, but essentially you will need two passport photos, proof of citizenship and proof of identity as well as the processing fee. You should apply for a passport at least as soon as you apply for the program. If you have one, please double check the expiration date as it typically must be valid at least six months beyond your stay.

Is financial aid available?

Most forms of financial aid will apply and there some scholarships specifically for study abroad. SIU, or your program provider, will supply you with a program budget letter upon request. That will need to be submitted to Financial Aid after you have applied for the program. Please note that you must have a FAFSA on file for the appropriate term and be registered for the class in order to apply for aid. The one exception is that Financial Aid will provide a preliminary estimate for summer programs before the official summer aid application is available. Please see the NAFSA Financial Aid Guide for Undergraduates and  SIU Study Abroad: Financial Aid Issues, for further information.

SIU Scholarships

SIU has scholarships for undergraduate students. At least one award is assigned to each Global Seminar which is short-term program led by SIU faculty. For semester/year students, you will be considered automatically when you apply for an SIU program or exchange. In addition, some departments have scholarships for study abroad or which may be used for study abroad.

External Scholarships

There are a variety of scholarships sponsored by the Federal Government and private foundations and organizations. Examples include the Fulbright Grant, National Security Education Program, Gilman Awards, Freeman Asia Foundation, Bridging Scholarships for Study in Japan and the DAAD awards for Germany. SIU student have won all of these awards. See our external scholarship page for more details and access to scholarship databases.

How do I register for credit?

All students are required to be enrolled at SIU while studying abroad. For short-term programs led by SIU faculty, you will be registered for the class associated with that specific program. For exchanges, you will be registered full-time for the appropriate class which is typically LAC 388 – Study Abroad. For all other programs, you will be registered in LAC 288 Study Abroad Orientation for your initial term and in UNIV 388, Study Abroad Continuing Enrollment for succeeding semesters and co-registered at your host institution using a consortium agreement. This will keep you in the system full-time for financial aid purposes. Please see the directions for specific programs for further details appropriate to your program.

Orientation: How will I find out about what I need to do to participate? 

Each semester, we will offer an on-campus orientation for students going on any program. There will also be individual orientations for specific programs, particularly the SIU faculty-led Global Seminars. These will be supplemented by written materials provided by SIU and your program provider. Every student enrolling fpr a program other than an SIU Global Seminar is required to take the on-line LAC 288 Study Abroad Orientation, offered in cooperation with Global Scholar, during the first term abroad. Students will be assigned a password to log in to the Global Scholar site.

In addition, semester or year students are required to go through the following three web sites for additional information. We recommend that short-term program students also review them.

  • - On-line study abroad handbook orientation with general planning information and country-specific links
  • - The "What's Up With Culture?" website focuses on intercultural communication and is one of the most important resources for those studying abroad
  • - The Global Scholar courses show you how to prepare, what to do while abroad and how to continue your international learning at home.

In addition to these three sites, we recommend that you prepare a Personalized Study Abroad Handbook. The guidelines can be found at Although this was developed for the International Student Exchange Program, it can be easily adapted.

What is a visa and will I need one?

A visa is permission for you to enter a country for a specific purpose such as study. You may not need a visa for a short-term program where you can enter as a temporary visitor, but you will always need either a visa or a residence permit to study in a country for a longer period such as a semester. Your program will supply additional information. Please note that you must have a passport before you can obtain a visa so it is important to apply for one immediately.

Are there health and safety issues that I should anticipate?

We have an excellent video on health and safety which we encourage you to view at our office. It will also be shown at the general orientation. We will also supply additional information appropriate to your program.

We recommend that all students--especially those going to developing countries--consult the Travel Consultation & Immunization Clinic at the SIU Student Health Center. See also the health and safety sections of our resource page.

Health Insurance

All SIU Carbondale students going abroad are required to be enrolled in our Gallagher Study Abroad Insurance. Participants in our Global Seminars led by SIU faculty are enrolled automatically.