AFS-USA has been a leader in facilitating intercultural exchange programs for over 75 years. With its access to a global network of AFS partners, AFS-USA provides authentic full immersion programs to high school aged participants that include an academic year, an academic semester, and summer programs that range from 2-8 weeks. You can learn more about these programs in the Study Abroad Programs Overview. It would be nearly impossible to memorize the details of all of our programs, so please don’t try! All of the programs can be accessed on our Study Abroad webpage, and our Study Abroad Team are experts in these programs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can look up available programs details, and which staff work with those programs, by following the guidance in this article. Your local Study Abroad Volunteers are also a great resource for any questions that come up.
Throughout the year, AFS-USA asks each Team to encourage young people to study abroad. AFS Volunteers can be instrumental in sharing study abroad and scholarship opportunities with people in their communities, particularly by reaching out to their local schools. Volunteers are encouraged to do community and school presentations and to reach out directly to teachers and other school staff to help spread awareness about AFS study abroad and scholarship opportunities. Check out our Promote AFS section to learn more.
Once interested students start their study abroad journey at www.afsusa.org, AFS volunteers provide support and set up Study Abroad Interviews to help answer any questions and to help determine if the individual is a good candidate for an AFS program. Volunteers are also asked to invite interested students to local events as a way to welcome them into the AFS community and keep them engaged in our programs.
Students committed to a program are invited to a Pre-Departure Orientation (PDO) conducted by local volunteers to help prepare students and their families for the abroad experience. Two or more Pre-Departure Orientations are held each year. Typically one in the winter (Nov-Jan) for students going on winter or spring (SH) programs and one in May-June for students going on summer or fall (NH) programs.
Scholarships and Fundraising
In September of 2023, AFS-USA was thrilled to announce the launch of our new Global Citizen Scholarship and Aid process under the leadership of President, Tara Hofmann. This new process made two key changes to our previous Study Abroad processes: qualified selection and a commitment to making study abroad more accessible and affordable. This means that to be acceptance on to an AFS program, applicants must demonstrate the Qualities of an AFSer: Flexibility, Resilience, Compassion, Open-Mindedness, and Adaptability. This also means that AFS-USA has removed all pay barriers to applying for a program, and if accepted into a program and in need of financial assistance, AFS-USA will meet that demonstrated need. Learn more about our launch by reviewing the MyAFS News articles here and here.
Learn more about our scholarships process here.
AFS volunteers can also help local students finance an AFS program by directing them to the Local and Nationally available scholarship opportunities available, the fundraising resources available, and sharing success stories of other participants. We want to make study abroad a reality for as many students as possible.
In fact, the Faces of America (FoA) Scholarship program provides high-achieving students from low-income families a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study abroad. By partnering with community-based organizations and schools in underrepresented communities, FoA has awarded scholarships to more than 2,120 outstanding teenagers and introduced them to a world of possibilities.
AFS implements three scholarship programs of the U.S. Department of State. Please find an overview of each program and a link to the program websites, where you can learn about eligibility, application timelines, and more, on the AFS-USA website:
- Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Abroad
- National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
- Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX)
While Students are Abroad
AFS Volunteers and Participant Support staff work with students and natural families while students are on program to help navigate any questions, concerns, safety or adjustment issues. See the Support Students section for more information.
Once a person has completed an AFS program, they become an AFS Returnee. AFS Volunteer Teams are strongly encouraged to host Welcome Home Events and Orientations for returning participants as a way to welcome them back to their AFS-USA family.