Eligibility Requirements

  • 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
    • For 2020 summer programs: birthdate between July 10, 2001 and June 10, 2005
    • For 2020-2021 academic year programs: birthdate between August 30, 2001 and June 30, 2005
  • 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
  • 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 2020-21 program year.

2020-21 Eligibility Policy for American Outbound Youth Programs

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:

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

Previous language study is not required. 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, gender identities, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds are welcome 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. Strong preference is given to those who have not previously participated in a Youth Programs Division overseas exchange program or lived abroad for six months or more during the past five years.

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Questions? Need more info? Contact us at 866.790.2086 or nsliy@americancouncils.org

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