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Eligibility Requirements:

AFS participants in Turkey
  • U.S. citizen
  • Grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale, or the equivalent
  • 15-18 years of age at start of program (birthdate between July 10, 1998 and June 10, 2002 for summer programs; birthdate between September 20, 1998 and June 30, 2002 for academic year programs)
  • Enrolled in high school (grades 9-12, including home school) at the time of application 
  • Not an immediate family member of an employee of the U.S. Department of State who works in the Youth Programs Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs or an employee at a NSLI-Y administering organization whose duties involve the NSLI-Y program
  • Have not previously traveled outside the U.S. on a long-term (more than eight weeks) program sponsored by the Youth Programs Division of the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)

Previous NSLI-Y summer program participants or alumni of ECA-funded short-term programs are only eligible to apply for a NSLI-Y academic year program.

Click here to read additional eligibility criteria from the U.S. Department of State for the 2017-2018 program year.

Previous language study is not a requirement. Students of all levels of language ability are welcome to apply. However, please note that the majority of NSLI-Y participants are at novice or intermediate levels at the start of the program.

The NSLI-Y program seeks applicants who represent the diversity of the United States. Students of all racial, ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds are encouraged to apply, as are students with disabilities.  Given that NSLI-Y seeks to support qualified participants who may not otherwise be able to study language abroad, previous international travel or study experience may be considered in the selection process.

Is NSLI-Y right for you?

Tajikistan Community Service
My host sister and I celebrated Turkish traditions and I ate Turkish food everyday, listened to the call to prayer and lived in Turkey as a local. This experience has given me confidence, passion, and independence; qualities that I am ever so grateful for.- NSLI-Y Summer Participant

NSLI-Y is a prestigious and selective overseas immersion experience for American youth. The goal of NSLI-Y is to promote critical language learning among American youth and to spark a lifetime of interest in language learning. NSLI-Y aims to guide students toward using language in their university and professional careers and to dedicate themselves to continued language learning far beyond their time on the program.

NSLI-Y scholars participate in intensive language courses on both summer and academic year programs. Summer programs include a minimum of 120 hours of formal classroom instruction. Academic year programs include at least ten hours per week of formal classroom instruction, and most programs include additional academic courses and research projects. All participants should expect to have homework and take exams during the course of the program. While classes are taught by trained and experienced teachers, students should be prepared to experience teaching methods that may differ from what they are used to in U.S. classrooms. These intensive language courses are complemented by cultural immersion activities, including homestays, excursions, and local community service projects.

NSLI-Y is focused on language acquisition, not travel or sightseeing; there is no guarantee participants will see any or all of the major historical sites in the host country. NSLI-Y is a very structured program and students are expected to participate in all program activities.  Participants should not expect to travel independently in the host country; in most cases, it will not be permitted.

Successful NSLI-Y participants dedicate themselves to language acquisition through both formal and informal learning opportunities. Successful participants strive to succeed both academically, by improving their language skills, and culturally, by gaining an understanding and appreciation for a new way of life. Participants should expect to immerse themselves in the language and cultural experience; they should not expect to complete academic work for their U.S. school while abroad. Participants should also be prepared to demonstrate open-mindedness, flexibility, and initiative in negotiating the cross-cultural environment, as well as to navigate the challenges inherent to any cross-cultural experience, including conditions and circumstances significantly different from those in the U.S.
Korean AC Summer

Before deciding to apply, learn more about the program by exploring this website, NSLI-Y Interactive and connecting with other students via Ask NSLI-Y Alumni, and NSLI-Y’s Facebook page, and Twitter account. We encourage you to discuss this opportunity with your parents and teachers. You may also want to talk with your teachers and school administrators about the possibility of receiving academic credit for your NSLI-Y experience.

2017-2018 Eligibility Policy for American Outbound Youth Programs

Eligibility: The Youth Programs Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) seeks to make youth exchange programs funded by ECA available to a wide and diverse American audience. ECA also seeks to prevent conflict of interest issues from arising with regard to Department employees and federal award recipients who are involved in particular scholarships and exchange programs.

This eligibility policy is in addition to any program specific requirements and applies only to U.S. participants in the following programs sponsored (funded) by the Youth Programs Division, and only for programs that include travel outside of the United States:

  • Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES Abroad)
  • National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
  • Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX)
  • American Youth Leadership Program (AYLP)
  • Youth Leadership Program (participants who travelled overseas only)
  • Youth Ambassadors Program

Participation in Multiple Programs: Participation in more than one of the above-listed Youth Programs Division-sponsored exchange programs is permitted only in the following circumstances:

  • The programs do not take place in the same calendar year.
  • The first program in which the individual participated was a short-duration program of eight (8) weeks or less AND the second program is a semester or academic year program.

Alumni of the semester and academic year programs are NOT eligible to apply for any of the programs listed above. Under no circumstances may an individual participate in more than two of the above-listed programs.

Family members of Department employees: Family members of employees of the Department whose official duties involve an ECA Youth Programs Division exchange program would be precluded from applying for that program. This is because there would be a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof if employees engage in official matters that affect the interests of their family members. In circumstances where a family member other than a spouse or dependent child wants to participate in a program in which the employee has official duties, the appropriateness of the employee engaging in such matters should be discussed with a Department Ethics attorney.

Family members of affiliated private sector employees: Family members of employees of ECA-funded implementers of grant programs and Department contractors whose official duties involve a particular ECA-funded youth exchange program are technically ineligible for that program. Family members include spouse and dependent children.