Current Program Operations

  • How does Binghamton University assess the risk of an education abroad program location?

    Binghamton University determines location safety by following information provided by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning level alerts, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). The Office of International Education and Global Initiatives (IEGI) also follows guidance from our campus Office of Risk Management and the International Travel Safety Committee, and considers procedures implemented by our fellow SUNY study abroad offices. At any time, Binghamton University’s assessment and decision-making can be superseded by decisions made by the State University of New York and the State of New York.

    The U.S. Department of State (DOS) provides country-specific Travel Advisory levels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes Travel Health Notices and country-specific advisory levels. The IEGI typically operates programs in countries with a U.S. State Department Level 2 and CDC Level 2 or lower. Any elevation in advisory levels indicates a change in condition, prompting us to review the situation, assess the impact on our students and staff, and evaluate whether we can maintain our programs.

  • Is Binghamton University running education abroad programs in spring 2024 and beyond?

    Yes, Binghamton University successfully reopened its education abroad programs in spring 2022 and will continue to offer education abroad programs for interested participants in collaboration with the SUNY Office of Global Affairs. 

    As always, we closely monitor program locations for evolving conditions.

    Students who plan to go abroad should always consider their risk tolerance and comfort level carefully, and should closely review the DOS travel advisories and CDC Travel Health Notices for their host country as part of their risk tolerance assessment. 

    While the pandemic has ended, COVID-19 has now become endemic. Should there be a resurgence, or the emergence of a serious outbreak of another disease, students should be aware, whether or not they are personally exposed, that the local response to the virus could dramatically alter their travel plans. Country entry requirements may also shift without notice. Due to the large number of program providers and locations available, Binghamton University is unable to assess programs that are organized by other institutions and providers (non-Binghamton Programs) regarding safety protocols, risk management procedures, and overall program quality.  

Application Process

Traveling Abroad & Returning

  • I do not have a valid passport for six months past the end of the program date. What is the current status of U.S. passport operations?

    Students must have a passport valid for at least six months after their program end date. As of January 2024, new passports may take as long as 8 weeks to process and require additional time for delivery. Click here for current processing times. 

  • How can I learn more about entry requirements and other information for international travel? 

    Travelers should review, understand, and continually check the U.S. State Department’s Country Specific Information and the CDC’s country-specific Travel Health Notices to learn about these details and remain aware of any changes. It is important to also research and plan for additional costs related to quarantine requirements, COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and transportation changes related to the pandemic. These additional costs are not included in the individual program’s “Estimate of Costs” sheet provided by IEGI.

  • What do I need to consider when it is time to purchase airfare?

    Students who are admitted to an education abroad program should communicate with their program advisor about when would be a good time to purchase airfare. Students are responsible for making their own flight arrangements. We strongly recommend that students purchase roundtrip airline tickets that permit a change of date or cancellation of the flight and to purchase tickets directly from the airline rather than a third-party vendor (like Expedia or Travelocity). Current airline guidelines indicate this is normally allowed with a penalty. Students should not purchase non-refundable airline tickets even though they may be less expensive. Non-refundable tickets often do not provide adequate protection for unforeseen circumstances. Be sure to read all of the provisions associated with any airline ticket or independent travel purchase. 

    Travel agents and insurance companies are sources of information about available trip cancellation insurance policies. SUNY has also made available a Trip Cancellation and Interruption Policy that is well-suited for education abroad participants. Students purchasing trip insurance should be aware of what it does and does not cover. 

  • What COVID-19 expenses are covered by the SUNY International Health Insurance Policy? 

    Participants in SUNY education abroad programs – including those managed by Binghamton University – are required to enroll in the SUNY-sponsored international health insurance through United Healthcare (UHC) for the duration of their education abroad program. The UHC policy provides coverage for all medical expenses, including COVID-19 tests for symptomatic individuals and treatment for those diagnosed with COVID-19, while the participant is overseas. Students should review the UHC website after enrollment to understand the policy in detail. 

    As of November 2022, UHC policy will not cover expenses relating to asymptomatic testing (for example for entry or travel requirements), quarantine accommodations, changes to travel arrangements, or lost academic costs related to the pandemic; it is for medical expenses only. Students may want to contact a travel agent to inquire about travel insurance for these non-medical expenses, and be sure to confirm if losses related to COVID-19 qualify for coverage, as they are commonly excluded. Also, UHC will not continue coverage for COVID-19 treatment once the participant returns to their home location. Students should contact their domestic insurance carrier to learn more about how their coverage would work if they return from a program and need continuing medical care. Students should not cancel their home (U.S.) coverage when they study abroad.

  • What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 on a faculty-led education abroad program?

    Students experiencing COVID symptoms are strongly encouraged to take a COVID test. If a student on a Binghamton University-administered faculty-led education abroad program tests positive for COVID-19, they must isolate until, for at least 24 hours, their symptoms are improving overall and they have not had a fever (and are not using fever-reducing drugs).  

    Keep in mind that a person may still be able to spread the virus, even once symptoms improve, although they are likely to be less contagious at this time. Once they resume activities they should take extra precautions for an additional 5 days, including careful hygiene, wearing a mask, physical distancing, and increased ventilation.  If symptoms worsen again, they should repeat the above guidance.  

    If your host country, onsite provider, or faculty leader requires additional actions and/or a longer isolation period you will be expected to follow their requirements. Any additional expense is the responsibility of the student; however, the required SUNY Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance may cover much of the cost. For additional information and guidance see the CDC’s page on “Preventing Spread of Respiratory Viruses When You’re Sick.”

  • Can I complete personal travel to other locations before, during, and/or after my education abroad program?

    We recommend monitoring the U.S. State Department’s country-specific Travel Advisory levels, and the CDC’s Travel Health Notices for any location that you intend to visit while abroad. You should also familiarize yourself with any updates for entry to your host-country. This reduces the possibility of being stranded in a different location if travel becomes restricted.

    In the event of a serious outbreak, there may be rapidly changing conditions and serious travel disruptions. While Binghamton University provides pre-departure information to assist students in making good choices to minimize risk, the risk assumed (health, safety, and academic/program) by traveling inside and outside of their country of study is their own. 

    If you choose to travel outside the dates of your program, within your host country, or to other countries:

    • Ensure that you have all of the required documents to return to your host location and the U.S. Be prepared for the possibility of being unable to return to your program location. Have a plan in case you are not able to return to your education abroad program location or the U.S. at the time you originally planned.
    • Understand any travel restrictions that may apply based on where you are traveling. Be aware that restrictions and requirements may change without warning. Monitor the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pages for updated information. The CDC recommends delaying international travel until the traveler is fully vaccinated.
    • Register any trips for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive additional guidance.
  • Do I need to complete a COVID-19 test before returning to the United States? 

    As of June 12, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) no longer requires air passengers traveling from a foreign country to the United States to show a negative COVID-19 test result. Be sure to confirm any requirements that your airline (or other transportation operators) and authorities at your final destination have in place. We advise you to take extra precautions in the days leading up to your departure. Should you test positive and need to stay in your host-country past the program end date, you will likely be faced with additional charges related to quarantine housing and logistics. We also encourage students to continue implementing good hygiene practices, such as wearing a well-fitting mask, using hand sanitizer, and maintaining social distancing when possible during travel.

Program Cancellations 

  • What if my program is canceled by Binghamton, SUNY, NYS, the institution abroad, or another entity abroad after I have committed to the program?

    While this occurrence is uncommon, should your education abroad program be canceled after you commit to it, you are still financially liable for all billable program costs. The IEGI will be able to refund your $150 commitment fee if the program has not yet started. If the IEGI is refunded by a partner on your behalf, that refund will be passed on to you by our office via Student Accounts. This is not inclusive of any other outside entities (such as a landlord/housing, excursions, flights, visa costs, etc.) you may have paid pertaining to other costs associated with your program. You may also be liable for those costs, which would be determined by those outside entities. 

  • Will Binghamton University, SUNY, or NYS suspend any future education abroad programs?

    The timing of any program suspension decision will be based on a balance of global health information, public health and safety advisories, travel restrictions, visa application dates, and program deadlines, as well as institutional and student feedback. If a decision has been made to suspend a program, staff in the IEGI will promptly notify our applicants and institutions with details about alternative program options.

    Because unexpected situations do arise, although infrequently,  we ask that students currently abroad or planning to study abroad in the future stay in touch with the IEGI and watch for updates from our office.

  • What happens if Binghamton University, SUNY, or NYS suspends an upcoming program that has not yet started?

    If an upcoming program should be suspended, we will immediately notify students, partner institutions, and program leaders. If a student on a Binghamton University program has paid their Commitment Fee (the internal fee paid through their online application) and the program is administratively canceled due to safety concerns or low enrollment, the Commitment Fee will be refunded by the IEGI. The IEGI will also direct students to campus offices for assistance with academic planning, financial aid, and other considerations.  

    “Independent” fees (such as airfare or housing deposits) are typically not refundable through the University and students would be liable for costs incurred. Applicants should also maintain back-up plans for on-campus course registration and housing. 

  • What happens if Binghamton University, SUNY, or NYS suspends a program that is currently running, and students are overseas?

    If a Binghamton University-administered program is suspended while students are overseas, we will immediately notify students, the partner institution, and any faculty or staff leading the program (program leaders), as appropriate. Students should contact their airlines to inquire about rebooking their return airfare home (unless students are directed to shelter in place). Ideally, students will have purchased tickets which provide flexibility in date changes and/or cancellation as well as trip cancellation and interruption insurance.

    In the event that any charges may be reimbursable (determined by the program host abroad), the IEGI will assist in trying to recoup applicable portions of those costs, though refunds are not to be expected. Additional guidance would be provided on a program by program basis. 

  • What academic contingency plans exist when current programs are suspended?

    If a program is suspended, and the overseas partner offers distance learning, Binghamton University expects the returning student to complete their term through the distance learning option. If students are offered by their host institution to continue coursework remotely due to COVID-19, coursework will be designed for students to continue learning through alternative means to satisfy course completion. Coursework might be delivered in a multitude of ways, allowing for maximum flexibility.

    If a Binghamton University program is canceled, and the university partner abroad does not offer distance learning, Binghamton University will work with students and their academic advisors to identify options that will assist them to retain full or partial credit, depending on the timing of suspension and the options available which meet the student’s academic needs. The IEGI cannot guarantee that alternative credit options will be available for every student’s situation, and some options may have additional costs involved.  

  • What if a student wants to return from a program that is not suspended?

    The IEGI understands that in some cases a student may wish to return home from a program that is within Binghamton University’s risk tolerance. The IEGI will provide guidance to the student regarding implications for academic progress and financial impact. Once the student confirms their plan to depart in writing, the IEGI will take any steps necessary to advise students on safety procedures, to communicate with the overseas partner, and to update necessary departments on the student’s home campus regarding their program departure. Students should also refer to the IEGI Withdrawal Policy listed on their program’s Estimate of Costs sheet to review the financial implications.