Absolutely not! NSLI-Y is about increasing the number of Americans studying and speaking critical languages, so students with all levels of language experience and ability, from beginner to advanced, are encouraged to apply.
Yes. For home-schooled students, the teacher recommendation form must be completed by an adult who is not related to the student, but knows the student well and can attest to her/his readiness to be an exchange student. Possible individuals to complete the recommendation may include, but are not limited to: scout leaders, coaches, clergy members, volunteer coordinators and instructors.
No, only U.S. citizens are eligible to participate.
Past summer participants in Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Russian and Turkish are eligible and encouraged to apply for an academic year program, but are not eligible to apply for another summer program. Please note that this is a change in policy from previous years. Students who have participated in a NSLI-Y Persian summer program may re-apply for another summer program in Persian or may apply for an academic year program in another language. Alumni of summer programs will be considered more competitive if they apply for an academic year program in the same language. No applicant is eligible for a third NSLI-Y program.
Timeline and Preparation
After you submit your application electronically, you will receive a confirmation email from American Councils. Semi-finalists will be notified of their status and contacted for interviews on a rolling basis starting in December and running through February . If an applicant is not chosen as a semi-finalist, s/he will also be notified at that time. All semi-finalists will be notified in April regarding a final decision. Go to the How to Apply
page for more information on the application timeline.
Students will receive a variety of pre-departure information, which may include self-study language materials. All students will have access to an on-line program of preparation called Culture Trek. Some programs will also provide written or on-line materials. We strongly encourage finalists who are beginners to explore the language on their own before departure.
Each implementing organization conducts their own orientations, so location and duration will vary, though pre-departure orientations usually last one or two days. The purpose of the orientation is to prepare you to be a safe and successful exchange student. Topics generally include information on health and safety, program information and schedules, information on the host country culture, culture shock and teambuilding activities.
Travel and Visas
All selected participants will need a valid U.S. passport. If you already have a passport, it must be valid at least six months after intended date of return to the U.S. For information on obtaining a passport for the first time or renewing, please visit travel.state.gov
. (Please note
: If you are traveling to Russia, your passport must be valid for 18 months after your anticipated return to the U.S., and if you are traveling to India, your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) will be required to have a valid passport as well.)
If you are selected for a scholarship, you are expected to have a valid passport by March 31, 2013. We encourage all semi-finalists to apply for passports. Scholarship recipients will need to have their passports in order to participate in the program and to begin the visa application process. The length of time to complete the visa process varies from country to country. Passports must be valid for at least six months after the intended return to the U.S., or 18 months after your anticipated return to the U.S. if you are traveling to Russia.
After receiving a NSLI-Y award, you'll be assigned to a placement organization. This organization will provide you with detailed instructions about the visa process for the country where your NSLI-Y program will take place. You will not need to apply for a visa until you are instructed to do so. Please remember that only U.S. citizens are eligible for NSLI-Y programs, and NSLI-Y students must travel with a U.S. passport.
You will travel on a chaperoned flight with the rest of the students in your group. Both domestic travel from your permanent residence and international airfare will be covered by the NSLI-Y scholarship.
No, you cannot travel independently while on an NSLI-Y program. Trips will be planned by the program implementer to various cultural and historical sites in your host country.
The administrators of the NSLI-Y program cannot provide medical advice about travel vaccinations. We recommend you follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for the country you will visit and consult with your physician.
Host parents typically do not speak English, which will require students to use the target language at home. If the host family has teenage children, they usually have studied some English and are often eager to use it. In the early stages of the host family stay they can help facilitate communication with other family members.
In most cases, only one exchange student lives with each host family, but in some cases, two NSLI-Y students may be placed with one host family. In no cases will three NSLI-Y students be placed with a single family.
Host families are chosen through a careful selection process with assistance from the host institution, host community partners, and/or volunteers. All prospective host families are interviewed in their homes. Families interested in hosting must also provide references. Organizations do their best to match host families and students based on the host family's application material and the placement information students provide in their NSLI-Y application. Age and gender are also taken into consideration. The most important criteria for selecting a host family are that the family can provide a safe environment and has a genuine interest in the cultural exchange that occurs in a host family arrangement.
Participants are not permitted to live with friends or relatives in the host country. Visits may be permitted if formally requested, but cannot conflict with scheduled program activities, including language lessons.
Visits from natural family, home country friends, and relatives are strongly discouraged during the program. Such visits can interrupt the continuity of the relationship with the host family and diminish the exchange experience for both the participant and the host family.
No, you cannot request to be placed in a certain city. City placements are determined at the discretion of the implementing organization.
If you have been experiencing technical difficulties, please email us at email@example.com
or call (866) 790-2086 and NSLI-Y staff will be available to assist you between 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time Monday thru Friday. Contact American Councils promptly if you encounter a problem, preferably well before the application deadline.
All applications and recommendation forms must be submitted online, except in rare cases in which the applicant can demonstrate that this requirement presents a significant impediment to applying for a NSLI-Y scholarship. Applicants who need to make alternative arrangements for submission of their application must do so by October 18, 2012
. Applicants who need further assistance may contact American Councils at (866) 790-2086 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Please refer to the application for specific instructions about submitting required documents.
If both parents have custody, they will both need to sign both forms.
If you are selected as a semi-finalist, please send an email to email@example.com
notifying NSLI-Y of the change. Please ask your interviewer to record your new preference, as well.
Applications without transcripts will not be reviewed, so be sure to have your most current transcript arrive by the deadline specified in the online application instructions, even if the current semester grades are not available.
Yes. To view your submitted NSLI-Y application, go to the application website
and enter your user name and password.
The “Application ID” is the same as the Reference Code. This is an eight digit code that starts with four randomly-assigned letters followed by four randomly-assigned numbers and is given to you when you begin your NSLI-Y application. For example, at the top of your application screen, it should read something along the lines of:
Display form “Application for High School Students in the U.S.A.” [ABCD1234] of User “Student Name” for Program NSLIY 2013
The “ABCD1234” is the Application ID or Reference Code.
Teacher Recommendation and Parent/Legal Guardian Statement
Yes. To change the information you provided on the Teacher Recommendation and/or Parent Statement section(s), please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that requests for changes to the Teacher Recommendation or Parent Statement sections must be submitted no later than December 4, 2012.
You may ask any academic instructor or counselor who can attest to your readiness to be an exchange student to write your Teacher Recommendation. It is a good idea to ask an individual with whom you’ve taken a class or worked with within the last two years.
For home-schooled students, the Teacher Recommendation must be completed by an adult who is not related to the student. Possible individuals may include, but are not limited to: scout leaders, coaches, clergy members, volunteer coordinators and instructors.
Give your recommender plenty of time to complete the recommendation. As you are requesting a professional service from your recommender, you should request the recommendation as soon as you decide to apply for NSLI-Y.
The confidential Teacher Recommendation is used to determine an applicant’s academic motivation and promise as an exchange student. The recommendation form asks for information about the applicant through both multiple-choice questions and open ended questions. The open ended questions permit the recommender to provide specific examples of how the student is prepared for an overseas language immersion program. In order for your teacher to write a strong recommendation, you should give him/her a description of the NSLI-Y program and explain why you want to participate.
The parent or legal guardian you request to write the Parent/Legal Guardian Statement may provide us with a written translation of their statement. Past applicants have asked older siblings or other relatives to provide this translation. If your parent or legal guardian submits a translated statement, please ask him or her to make a note of this somewhere within their statement.
General Program Information
All NSLI-Y programs include:
Access to exclusive NSLI-Y online cultural and language resources
In-country orientation and support
Language and cultural instruction with opportunities to apply acquired skills and knowledge
Community service projects
Accommodations, usually with a host family
Alumni activities, including access to the U.S. Department of State's online community, State Alumni
The costs covered by the scholarship are:
Round-trip travel between the participant's home region and the overseas host city
Travel from participant's home region to the pre-departure orientation location
Tuition and academic materials
Pre-departure and re-entry orientations
Room and board
Secondary medical benefits
The costs not
covered by the scholarship are:
Costs associated with obtaining a U.S. passport
Required medical examinations and immunizations
Extra pocket money while on program
Graduation requirements vary from state to state, so you should discuss your plans to participate in NSLI-Y with your guidance counselor. We also recommend that you find out in advance whether you may receive credit in liberal arts subjects through participating in the program. The primary focus of NSLI-Y is language learning, and most classes will be language classes, though students may also attend academic classes in the target language. Your high school will make the final decision on whether or not to grant academic credit. You should take into consideration that such U.S. specific subjects as English, Literature, World History, State History, etc. are unlikely to be offered at an equivalent level or offered at all. You might want to arrange to take certain required courses prior to, or after your participation in, the NSLI-Y program. Please note that NSLI-Y is a rigorous immersion program and requires your full attention and effort; participants should not plan on completing online academic study for their U.S. schools while on program.
Students will travel to their host countries in groups. Students on summer programs will generally live in the same community and attend classes and activities together. Students participating in academic year programs often live in the same community as other participants, though in other cases, they may be the only NSLI-Y student in their community or school. All participants will have a resident director and/or local coordinator in the same community who will monitor and support them for the duration of the program.
At the end of the selection process, semi-finalists will be notified via email in April whether or not they have been selected as a finalist or alternate. Those who are chosen as a finalist or alternate will receive information about the specific program for which they are selected at the time of notification.
The selection process begins as soon as the application period ends. In the first stage, volunteer evaluators will read NSLI-Y applications, and they will select semi-finalists. In the next stage, taking place from December to February, semi-finalists will be contacted to participate in an interview with AFS volunteers. Final selection takes place after the semi-finalist interviews. **Please note that all contact regarding your NSLI-Y application will be sent to the email address you supplied in your application.
Please do not call or email American Councils or AFS to find out if you have been selected; NSLI-Y staff will inform you as soon as information is available.
To find out more about the selection process, visit the How to Apply page.
Student safety and security is the highest priority for NSLI-Y. The U.S. Department of State, in consultation with its embassies and missions overseas, approves all NSLI-Y host countries and communities. The U.S. Department of State and the implementing organizations continuously monitor events in host countries and are in contact with U.S. embassies and missions. All NSLI-Y students are registered at the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the host country. During their pre-departure orientation students receive safety awareness training, which includes discussions of how to address risks specific to the host country. Living with a host family or in a closely monitored dormitory setting also increases student safety.
Read more about safety and security on the For Parents
Absolutely! The Exchanges Connect
social network is a great tool for finding out more information. Ask questions to Returnees about anything from cultural and religious norms in your host location, to what to pack.