Pre-Departure Stage

The Pre-Departure Stage has many administrative steps. The following is a brief description of each step, responsibilities involved, and an estimated timeline.

#1: Submit Program Proposals to Colleges & Departments

If a different college is sponsoring your program, talk with the sponsoring college/department about when your proposal should be submitted. At least 10+ months prior to program departure is a good rule of thumb for program proposals to be submitted to the sponsoring college/department.

Winter & Spring Timeline: February

#2: Faculty Leaders Submit Course Abroad Planning Form & Course Abroad Budget Form to SAO

If the Course Abroad Planning Form and the Course Abroad Budget Form are as detailed as possible from the beginning, students are more likely to stay committed to the program. Based on the initial cost projections given on the Budget Form, the SAO builds the Program Budget and eventually sets the program fee. Both the Course Abroad Planning Form and Course Abroad Budget Form can be found on our Documents and Forms page.

Factors to consider when proposing a program include:

  • Knowledge about and contacts with the proposed program sites
  • Amount of time you can commit to the development, recruitment, and implementation of the program, on campus and abroad
  • Cost and feasibility of the program within a student budget
  • Student interest in the program, course, and location
  • Ability to collaborate with SAO to make the program successful

Winter Timeline: July
Summer Timeline: November

#3: Individual Faculty Leader Meetings with SAO

The coordinators for short-term programs will contact faculty leaders to set up meetings at different times throughout the program planning, development, and pre-departure phases.

Winter Timeline: June-September
Summer Timeline: October-February

#4: Faculty Leaders Initiate Contact with Applicants

In order to keep students interested in the program, faculty leaders should initiate contact. Faculty leaders will be provided with applicants’ names and emails, and it is recommended that an initial email be sent out before the application deadline to convey your excitement about the program and the location your group will be traveling to. This is a good tool to help build a solid relationship between you and the students. Students are more likely to drop out of programs when they have rarely or never heard from the faculty leader.

Winter Timeline: August
Summer Timeline: January

#5: Deadline for Student Applications

Acceptance decisions on applications should be made 1-3 weeks after the application deadline. The deadline for applications is set at least three months prior to the program's departure.

When the final deadline passes, program sponsors will review the applicant numbers for each program and decide whether or not to continue planning for the program. The tendency has been to assume that programs which have reached minimum capacity will succeed, programs with only half the minimum number will get a heavy subsequent recruitment push, and programs with less than half the minimum will likely be cancelled. Ultimately, applications could be accepted 1 to 2 weeks before the last day commitments must be made to providers and airlines. Therefore, the final absolute deadline varies program-to-program, year-to-year. Please always consult with the Study Abroad Office on whether to extend your program deadline. Please also know that late applications have a high likelihood of falling through and should not be relied upon to make a program go.

Winter Timeline: Mid September
Summer Timeline: Early February

#6: Finalize Program Budget & Review Program Fee

SAO generates the program budget and fees, reviews them with the sponsoring college, and sends them to the faculty leader. After the review, there can be no additions to the projected program costs, and changes to the budget are expected only in the areas of exchange rates and number of participants. The program fee is based on meeting the minimum number of students for the program. As soon as a program's final fees are set, Confirmation of Participation forms, which detail the expected costs to students and require a second commitment to all costs incurred, are prepared so they can be sent with student acceptance letters.

Winter Timeline: September
Summer Timeline: February

#7: Faculty Leaders & SAO Promote Program Review & Accept Applications

When SAO has the Course Abroad Planning Form and Course Abroad Budget Form for a program, they will create a flier consistent with all relevant and crucial program details. The fliers will then be distributed to the faculty leader and placed around campus. Recruitment can begin as soon as the required forms are submitted and recruitment material is created. Ideally, SAO would prefer to partner with you on a recruitment plan so as not to duplicate efforts.

Once the initial application deadline passes, faculty leaders and SAO review applications to determine acceptances.

If there is a concern about a student, then the faculty leaders may contact the student directly to discuss this prior to determining acceptance. Not only should faculty leaders be ready to make acceptance decisions, but they should also be ready to waitlist or deny applications if the interest in the program exceeds the maximum number of students the program can accommodate.

Winter Timeline: June-September
Summer Timeline: October-February

#8: SAO Sends Acceptance Emails & Packets to Students

SAO sends emails to students immediately upon changing their status online to either accepted, waitlisted, or denied. If students commit to the program, they are administered a $305 advanced payment.

One to two weeks after the initial acceptance email is sent, students will receive an acceptance packet via email. The acceptance packet will include an acceptance checklist, the Confirmation of Participation form, a student budget that can be submitted to the Office of Student Financial Aid, and a flight summary and passenger information form (if there is an organized group flight for the program).

Winter Timeline: September-October
Summer Timeline: February-March

#9: Make Arrangements with Providers

At least 6-8 months prior to departure, the faculty leader and SAO make initial arrangements and reservations with overseas providers (hotels, dorms, homestays, classroom space, travel companies, etc.). This includes getting firm estimates for anticipated costs, making reservations, establishing criteria for usage/refunds, etc. If contracts are used, they should be sent directly to SAO as soon as possible to ensure they are processed well in advance before payment is due. SAO also requests bids for airfare arrangements, if needed.

Winter Timeline: June-September
Summer Timeline: October-February

#10: SAO Secures Reservations & Submits Deposits & Payments

Make sure reservations are set, either through your direct contact or through the SAO advisor for your course. Under university regulations, new vendors abroad must complete W-8BEN or similar forms, so please make sure to take care of this early on. Payments cannot be made until it is. Submit invoices to Karen Tempel, the Business Manager in the Study Abroad Office, for as many advance payments as possible. Once reservations with providers abroad are finalized and SAO receives invoices and reviews them for accuracy and other information, the SAO pays deposits and final payments and gets authorized official signatures on contracts as required.

Winter Timeline: September-November
Summer Timeline: January-March

#11: SAO Attends 1-2 On-Campus Sessions with Faculty Leaders

SAO will attend one of the faculty leader's first on-campus meetings for the first 10-15 minutes to go over the acceptance checklist with students and answer any questions they may have.

The second class SAO will attend will be either the faculty leader's second-to-last or last on-campus meeting. Students have to complete a health and safety orientation online prior to departure, and SAO will visit the class to go over some scenarios as a way to quiz students on the health and safety information that was covered. This meeting is also a great opportunity for you to provide students a program-specific orientation.

The following are highly suggested topics to cover:

  • Academic goals for the trip.
  • Tentative/final program schedule.
  • Expectations on student behavior. Set guidelines and/or compose a contract.
  • Language barriers that may exist.
  • Encourage students to do their own "cultural" research on their destination.
  • Culture cue and clues - behaviors expectations, gestures, tones, etc.
  • Region specific health and safety information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of State, etc.
  • Provide students with information on how their families can contact them in case of an emergency at home.
  • Set up a phone tree for students' parents here to contact each other in the event of a large-scale emergency.

In addition to the 1-2 on-campus sessions, new faculty leaders are required to meet with SAO for a Risk Management Workshop in early April or November. The workshop covers:

  • Finances and accounting while abroad
  • Health and safety issues; emergency response protocols; managing problems
  • What is covered in students' pre-departure handbooks and health and safety modules
  • Final paperwork - emergency information sheets, cell phone numbers, etc.
  • What to do upon return; post program narratives

Winter Timeline: October-November
Summer Timeline: March-April

#12: Faculty Leaders Arrange for Cash Advances & Sign Budget

Contact Darcy Derr of SAO at 217-333-0876 or by email to set up an appointment to discuss final cash distributions for program payments and cash advances (collecting director's discretionary, emergency contingency, per diem, etc.). Cash advances cannot be paid out the same day, so faculty leaders must plan accordingly. Faculty leaders will also sign the program budget, which states they understand the budget categories and agree that they must stay within the budget or risk covering the costs themselves.

Winter & Summer Timeline: 2-3 weeks prior to departure

#13: Departure

It is crucial that SAO knows how to contact you at all times! Please leave you contact information, emergency contact lists, and flight itineraries with SAO before your departure.

Winter Timeline: December-January
Summer Timeline: May-July