What are the general Aspire by API application requirements?
The general API application requirements are as follows:
- Completed online application.
- One letter of recommendation (must be from high school teacher or guidance counselor, can be submitted separately).
- Parent authorization form (for minors only).
- Meet the minimum age requirement, GPA, and any prerequisites, if applicable.
- Most recent grade report, or high school diploma (if applying for a gap semester/gap year program--can be submitted separately).
- $150 application deposit.
Does my student have to know the host country language to participate?
All of our language and culture programs include a beginning-level course, so your student may start as a beginner. We also offer programs that include courses in English only.
How do you select your staff?
Our on-site directors are highly-qualified and trained professionals who have a background in education, have lived, studied, or worked abroad, and have experience working with students in a study abroad program.
What safety procedures are in place?
Our students’ safety and well-being is our top priority. We use safe and secure campuses and housing, and our on-site directors are trained to follow our emergency response plans when necessary. All of our students will be provided with an emergency contact card to carry with them at all times, a handbook that includes emergency contact information and emergency procedures, and our on-site director will talk to the students upon arrival about what to do in the case of emergency. We have doctors and medical facilities available, and each student will have health insurance coverage, including medical evacuation. (See medical insurance details below).
Will my student need to obtain a student visa before going abroad?
Usually if a student will be in the host country fewer than 90 days, they are not required to obtain a a student visa; however, some countries require a student visa regardless. Aspire staff will provide you with all of the necessary visa information upon your student’s acceptance.
Does Aspire offer scholarships or payment plans?
Scholarships and payment plans are available. Click here to download a copy of the Aspire by API scholarship application. Scholarship awards are based on both financial need and academic merit.
The scholarship application deadlines are as follows:
Please contact the Aspire by API office at 877-600-8977 to discuss payment plan options.
What is included in the program cost?
Pre-Departure Orientation Materials
Mobile Phones *except for Costa Rica
Housing, Meals and Laundry *varies by program
Community Involvement and Volunteer Opportunities
Medical and Life Insurance
Overnight Excursions and Day Trips
Social, Recreational and Cultural Activities
Does Aspire provide medical insurance?
Yes. We provide medical insurance for all students through AMA & Associates. Medical insurance covers each student up to a maximum limit of $500,000 per covered injury or illness as well as hospitalization for accidents or severe illness during the program. Benefits are also provided up to $100,000 for medical evacuation/repatriation. Students also have access to 24-hour support services for medical emergencies. Our insurance plan requires no deductibles or co-pays; students will remit payment on site and then submit receipt and claim form to the insurance company within 90 days of injury or treatment for reimbursement. Coverage is also included for an acute onset of pre-existing conditions, defined as a sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence of a pre-existing condition which occurs spontaneously and without advance warning. Treatment must be obtained within 72 hours of the sudden and unexpected outbreak or recurrence.
How will my student get to the host country, and will s/he be met at the airport upon arrival?
All Aspire students are met at the airport by Aspire on-site staff on the program start date. Before the program begins, Aspire can often connect program participants from the same geographical area so they can make arrangements to travel together. If students have alternate travel plans, Aspire can help arrange an airport-hotel transfer service so that independent travelers can meet up with the group on-site. Students receive detailed flight instructions upon their acceptance into the program and should wait to purchase a flight until receiving more information post-acceptance.
Can parents accompany students to their program site for the on-site orientation?
How early should I book my child's flight overseas?
One of the advantages of Aspire by API programs is the small size and personal attention that we are able to give to students and parents. Occasionally, an Aspire program must be cancelled due to low enrollment. For that reason, we advise participants not to purchase their flight until the official program confirmation notification has been received. Usually this confirmation is received shortly after the application deadline for each program. Aspire by API is not able to reimburse students for flights that are unused due to program cancellation. If your program is cancelled, you will have the option to switch to another Aspire by API program or receive a full refund of your program fees, including the $150 application deposit and the $400 confirmation payment.
What type of housing is available and are any meals included?
With Aspire summer and travel programs, housing and most meals are included in the Aspire program fee. Meals for gap year students vary according to housing choice and may or may not be included. Depending on the program, students are housed with host families, in residence halls, or, in some special cases, in hotels. Host families have been carefully screened by Aspire staff and provide laundry service and two to three meals per day (except for when students are on excursions). Most residence halls provide access to coin-operated washing machines and a kitchenette where students can prepare their own meals. In the case of hotel and residence hall accommodation on summer programs, Aspire on-site staff will reside with the students. Breakfast is provided at the hotel when students are on overnight excursions. Please note that all gap students who are minors will be required to live with a host family (and a curfew will be set) while abroad.
All students are required to pay a $250 security deposit. This deposit is refundable at the end of the program less any amount for housing damages or other outstanding balances due. Housing for all year students during the period between the fall and spring semesters is not included in the Aspire program fee. Most students take advantage of this time to return home to the U.S. or to travel around their host country. In most cases, Aspire can arrange between-term housing for students in their host city for an additional fee
How are the host families chosen?
The Aspire on-site directors meet and interview all of the host families before placing any students in the home. Most, if not all, families have previously hosted an API or Aspire student. We ask students to evaluate their host family experience at the end of the program. If a student has a serious concern during their stay, they should contact their Aspire on-site director immediately.
Can my student request to room/live with a friend?
Students will be asked if s/he wants to live with someone specific on the housing form included in their acceptance packet. They may request to room/live with a specific person, and if that person also requests them as a roommate, Aspire will make every attempt to comply with their request (i.e., requests must be mutual).
What should students do about money while abroad?
We advise that students “diversify” the money that they plan to use abroad. By this we mean students should take a mix of “money sources” consisting of an ATM card, traveler’s checks, converted money (euros or the national currency), and a credit card. The amount of money that a student should take (at least in traveler’s checks and foreign currency) will depend on the length of the program and where the student will be studying (e.g. the cost of living in Italy is higher than in Spain), but a typical allowance is $20-30 a day.
What if my student gets sick?
Our on-site director is on call 24 hours a day. If your student has an emergency or, is simply not feeling well, he or she should tell the on-site director who will assist. The on-site director will accompany students to the hospital, doctor, or pharmacy.
How do the mobile phones work?
Aspire programs (except Costa Rica) include mobile phones for students to use during their term abroad. With these cell phones, parents, family, friends, and Aspire staff at home and abroad can communicate with students and more easily contact them in the event of an emergency. In most locations (and where available), students will receive a free phone (only the SIM card has to be returned upon completion of the session abroad) with discounted calling packages. Students participating in these programs can order their cell phone online prior to departure, providing a credit card for billing purposes. If ordered at least two weeks prior to departure, Aspire pays for shipping and handling fees. Specific details about the mobile phones are provided post-acceptance.
Do you sell Eurail Passes?
Aspire by API does sell Eurail passes. You may download an order form or find the form with your post-acceptance forms.
When deciding on a Eurail pass, it is best for students to have a good idea about their travel plans such as where they want to go and for how long in order for us to recommend the most appropriate option. Eurail passes are a great way to travel by train in Europe. The passes are most valuable for those traveling for longer periods of time, and over greater distances (i.e., country to country as opposed to city to city).
Eurail passes are not required. In fact, we generally do not recommend them unless the student:
- plans to arrive in Europe and travel before and/or after the program starts
- plans to stay in Europe and travel after the program is over
- is studying for more than one semester and thus has more weekends available to travel
- plans to stay over a break (winter break) to travel;
- will be studying in a location such as Seville, Spain, that has 2-3 weeks of spring break, during which time they plan to travel.
If after reading the Eurail application form there are still questions and/or concerns, students are welcome to contact the Aspire by API office for assistance.
What is an ISIC Card? Does API provide one for me? Do I need one? How do I get one?
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is an I.D. card that students can purchase that provides numerous discounts for student travelers (in addition to being another form of identification).
Aspire does not provide students with ISIC cards. It is not necessary for students to purchase an ISIC card for identification purposes. The benefits to purchasing an ISIC card are the discounts available to ISIC bearers (e.g., museums, plane and train tickets, etc.). It is important to note that school-issued I.D.s are not always honored for discounts.
Students can purchase an ISIC card by visiting www.isiccard.com or through travel agencies.
What should we pack?
We recommend that students pack lightly because all students are responsible for carrying his/her own luggage. S/he should bring comfortable shoes (already broken in!) and comfortable, practical clothes that can be mixed and matched and worn more than once. Aspire by API will send students a recommended packing list prior to departure.
How can I send packages or gifts to my student?
You will be provided with the mailing address as part of your student’s final packet of information, which you will receive several weeks prior to departure.
Who do I contact if I’m concerned about my student?
Please contact the Aspire by API staff at the U.S. office, 1-877-600-8977. We will contact the on-site director regarding your concerns.
Where can I request an additional transcript?
To request an additional transcript, click here to download a copy of the Aspire by API Transcript Request Form.
I know that I can fill out my application online, but I'd rather fill out a paper application. Is there a way I can do that?
Of course! Click here for a printable copy of the application. You can fill it out and then send it to us via email or snail mail.
How can I get a copy of the Aspire by API catalog?
It is a good idea to brush up on your international knowledge and learn what is going on in your host country before you arrive. One way to do this is by visiting the official tourism website for your host city and/or country. Most sites have an English language version (just click on the British or U.S. flag icon).
Special Considerations for Non-U.S. Citizens
Aspire by API programs require advanced or native proficiency in English. We are happy to consider any applicants from the United States or Canada. Aspire by API will also consider students from non-English speaking countries on a case-by-case basis. In the event that Aspire by API cannot properly evaluate a student's academic credentials or verify the applicant's English proficiency, admission into an Aspire by API program may be denied with a full refund of program fees.
Note: Aspire by API's ability to advise non-U.S. citizens regarding visa procedures is limited. International applicants are advised that they will generally need to work with the host country's consulate located in their country of origin to solicit a student visa or entry permit.
How many students participate in the summer programs and where are they from?
Our program groups tend to range in size from 10-25 students, and participants come from all over the U.S.
What is a gap year?
Aspire gap year and gap semester programs offer recent high school graduates the opportunity to earn college credits by traveling and studying abroad before starting an undergraduate program at their home university.