I am a... Student Parent

Welcome! Berkeley Study Abroad encourages student parents to study abroad. As a student parent, you have likely learned to balance multiple priorities while meeting the needs of you and your family members, and this will serve you well in your study abroad planning. Traveling with your family or independently can be a tough decision, but it is up to you and what you want out of your experience. Below are some resources and considerations to keep in mind while planning to study abroad.

Where to Start: Explore Your Options & Seek Early Advising

Visit our Explore Program Search Tool to learn about Berkeley Study Abroad opportunities such as:

  • Berkeley Global Internships

    A summer academic and internship program offered in a variety of global cities.

  • Berkeley Summer Abroad

    Summer UC Berkeley faculty-led courses taught in an international location.

  • UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP)

    UC system-wide summer, semester and year programs offered in over 40 countries that include study, research and internship opportunities.

Consider which programs are a good fit for you academically, personally, and financially by looking up eligibility criteria, program structure, course offerings, housing options, program calendars, and program costs.

You may also want to spend some time reviewing these study abroad options for Berkeley student parents traveling with family members.

Seek advising early so that we can discuss your questions and help you identify study abroad options that could work for you.

Financial Planning & Financial Aid

UC Berkeley and UCEAP study abroad programs each publish a comprehensive student budget, which includes tuition, program fees, housing, books and supplies, meals, travel insurance, round-trip airfare, local transportation, and incidentals. If you are considering traveling with family members, the costs associated with taking your family members are not included in the study abroad program's budget.

Financial aid is available for students going on UCEAP, Berkeley Global Internships, and Berkeley Summer Abroad programs. Financial aid students are repackaged for financial aid based on the total budget of the program as described above. You may request an estimate of your financial aid package for a specific study abroad program by emailing travelaid@berkeley.edu. In the email, please include the following: your name, SID, study abroad program name, study abroad term, a link to the cost page of your program’s website, and that you are a student parent. A Financial Aid Counselor who works with study abroad students will respond.

A Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request (COAAR) may also be available to account for certain expenses, such as a computer purchase (once every 3 years) and medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance. For student parents, additional housing expenses and child care expenses can also be considered during the study abroad term. Housing expenses will only be considered for one location, and can be funded with a housing grant. The rest of the COAAR is usually funded with additional loans.

Parent Grants vary by amount and may be available if you travel alone or with family members. Additional scholarships are available, including the Gilman Scholarship.

Traveling with Family Members

Although parts of it may be challenging, studying abroad with family members may be a worthwhile endeavor. With careful planning you can create an experience that will benefit you and your children. We encourage you to review this list of study abroad options for student parents traveling with family members. International travel has many benefits for children including, igniting a sense of curiosity and adventure, increasing adaptability and flexibility, and building family memories. If you are thinking of bringing child(ren) and/or other family members with you for all or a portion of your study abroad program, please consider the following:

  • Location & Housing

    Talk with a Berkeley Study Abroad Adviser about what housing options are available in the location of your chosen program/s and any extra costs for housing family members. Select programs are available where all students arrange their own housing. In some instances, student parents may be able to opt out of program housing and arrange their own. If this is the case, research the area that you will be residing in to maximize familiarity, safety, and comfort, and use reliable sources to minimize risk.

    If you plan on subletting your Berkeley-based apartment while you are away, you should verify with your landlord that you can legally sublease and what the process entails. For more information about subleasing at University Village, visit the FAQs on the UC Berkeley Family Student Housing website.

  • Passports & Visas

    All travelers of all ages need a valid passport to travel internationally. Passport processing times can range from weeks to months.

    Visa (entry clearance) requirements vary by country, citizenship, length of travel, reason for travel, and age. Your study abroad program provider may offer some guidance for US citizen students who need visas for their study abroad program. You will need to research what visas your family members will need, and you will be responsible for the application and associated costs where needed. The visa process can be lengthy and may involve fees.

  • Childcare

    Students who bring children abroad are responsible for arranging childcare during classroom hours, orientations, program-related activities, and study time. Please be advised that many programs will not allow dependents to partake in program-related activities or excursions. All study abroad programs have strict attendance policies. Some student parents travel with a family member or friend who can provide childcare.

  • School for Children

    Depending on the length of the study abroad program and your child's age, you may consider enrolling your child in school abroad. It is your responsibility to research and determine if it is possible to enroll your children in school abroad. If you are considering enrolling your child(ren) in school abroad, you will need to plan early, inform yourself of options abroad, and coordinate any enrollment.

  • Travel and Personal Expenses

    You are responsible for funding all expenses related to your family, including airfare, visas, passports, immunizations, food, housing, childcare, schooling, insurance, local transportation, recreational travel, incidentals and emergencies. If you choose to bring family members with you for all or a portion of your program, please plan ahead to cover these extra expenses. The costs associated with taking your family members are not included in the study abroad program's budget or financial aid package.

  • Healthcare

    The Tang Center's International Travel Clinic and the Center for Disease Control provide information and strategies about traveling overseas. If you are traveling with family members, be sure to contact their primary care physician for travel related health services. You may need to obtain vaccinations for yourself and your family prior to departure. All students participating in UCEAP programs are required to go through a health clearance process.

  • Program Terms and Types

    A good fit is key to success when traveling with family members.

    Summer programs may be a good fit if you have school-aged children who can travel with you during their summer break. Keep in mind that many summer programs are also intensive, meaning long days where you are attending classes and/or participating in required program activities and excursions.

    Semester or year-long programs may work well if your goal is to have a long-term, stable experience immersing you and your family in a foreign country. Research expenses, childcare and school options as needed for your family. Also consider the impact that a more extended time away from home may have on you and your children.

    Multi-site programs may require different visa and vaccination requirements for you and family members if you are traveling to multiple countries. They also may be less routined than a program in a single location, and require finding more short-term housing options in multiple locations.

  • Reduce Course Load Availability

    Study abroad programs may or may not be able to accommodate a reduced course load due to visa requirements, program structure and/or host institution policies."

    In order to request a reduced course load on a study abroad program, students must be registered with the Disabled Students Program (DSP) on their home campus and submit a letter from DSP documenting the accommodations to their study abroad program provider prior to departure. As some types of accommodations can take several months to arrange, we recommend obtaining and submitting your DSP letter as early as possible. The earlier this letter is submitted, the more time students have to plan. More details about requesting disability related accommodations can be found on the I am a Student with a Disability page.

    Student parents who do not have a documented DSP letter and are participating in a semester UCEAP program while traveling with children should discuss options with their Berkeley Study Abroad Adviser. 

    Please keep in mind that students participating in a summer program, such as Berkeley Summer Abroad, Berkeley Global Internships, or a summer UCEAP program must enroll in at least 6 units to qualify for financial aid.
  • Preparing Your Child for Going Abroad

    Culture shock is a common experience for anyone traveling abroad, including you and your children. While living abroad with you will enrich their understanding of the world and different cultures, parts of the experience may be scary. Before traveling, consider reading books or sharing media with them about where they will be living. Be sure to have open conversations with them about their feelings and do your best to reassure them you are there to support them.

  • Cultural Differences

    Each culture has its own values and perceptions about parents, children and families. Depending on your study abroad location, you may be perceived differently than you are used to. This may also vary depending on being a single parent, having a spouse, or based on one’s gender identity. This may also be an opportunity to form special bonds with people that you meet abroad, since family tends to be a strong cultural value across the world that manifests in unique ways. We encourage you to research family values in the countries you are considering studying abroad in so that you may prepare yourself and dependents for cultural differences.

Before proceeding with an application, we recommend discussing your thoughts and plans with your Berkeley Study Abroad Adviser to determine the viability of studying abroad with your family members. In addition, be sure to talk with your major and college advisers about how to study abroad and stay on track for graduation. If you are a financial aid student, email our study abroad Financial Aid Counselors at travelaid@berkeley.edu to determine what your financial aid package will look like for your chosen study abroad program. You are also welcome to reach out to the Student Parent Center at studentparents@berkeley.edu to learn more about traveling with dependents.

Traveling Independently

Many student parents have studied abroad independently, or without their family members present, in the past. It is very normal to experience mixed emotions about traveling without your child(ren) or spending an extended period of time away from your family. Students may experience a range of emotions including pride, guilt, excitement, and nervousness. If you are experiencing feelings of guilt about traveling independently, we encourage you to consider ways of coping with and releasing such feelings. It is okay to take this time to enjoy your college experience without allowing stigma to detract from it. You deserve this, and you earned it!

  • Program Terms and Types

    Summer is a common term for student parents to travel without their children because of its shorter duration. These programs are often intensive and students are busy during long days with classroom and/or program activities. If you are a financial aid student, consult financial aid counselors about your summer financial aid before you apply.

    Semester or year long programs offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new environment, and/or develop your language skills. Oftentimes, it is more cost-effective to study abroad for a semester or year versus a summer because summer is an optional term, and there tends to be more institutional aid available for financial aid students in the semester.

    Multi-site programs involve more travel and living in short-term group housing situations, so these may be more easy to navigate for students traveling independently.

  • Preparing for your absence

    It is normal for you and your family members to experience anxiety as your departure date approaches. Preparing your child(ren) in advance may ease the transition for the entire family. Show your child(ren) maps of where you will be traveling, teach them about the culture, and watch media from that country.

  • Communicating with family while abroad

    Prolonged absence from your child(ren) and family members can be difficult. To develop a healthy practice for yourself and your family, we encourage you to arrange a schedule of communications in advance. Google Duo, Facetime, Signal, Whatsapp, Zoom, and more apps are available abroad.

  • Emotional support

    Support services are available for you at the Tang Center's Counseling and Psychological Services before you depart. Ask your Study Abroad Adviser early about what type of on-site mental health support is available in your study abroad location.

Hybrid Approach

Some student parents may consider planning for their family to visit them during their program. In general, a mid-program visit from your family may be difficult to navigate in terms of housing, academics, and your own cultural adjustment process. In addition, oftentimes, students will not know their weekly and daily schedule and workload until after arrival. For these reasons, we encourage family members to join you before or after your program if possible. Please discuss pre-program travel, visa considerations, and budgeting with your Study Abroad Adviser.