Parent FAQs

ACADEMIC CREDIT

Q: Will students get credit in their major at their home campus for participation on this project?

A: Typically, Wildlands Studies course credit transfers as upper division elective credit toward overall degree requirements. If a student wants their credits to apply to their major, the student will need to speak with their major advisor to make sure that they will accept the project’s credits for their major. We have many documents and course material that students can take to their advisor for review toward course equivalency. Many students have had success at transferring their Wildlands Studies course credit directly into their major, particularly if they are pursuing an Environmental Studies degree.

Q: Do students need to be registered at their home university during the term that they are on a Wildlands Studies project?

A: Each campus has its own way of allowing students to take a quarter or semester off to study abroad. Students should speak with an advisor to ask about taking courses outside their home university. Most universities have a process and paperwork to complete for ‘planned leave’ that allows students to remain as a continuing student at their home university.

PROGRAM FEES AND FINANCIAL AID

Q: What paperwork do students need to submit to Wildlands Studies so that they can use their financial aid?

A: The process to obtain a Consortium Agreement to use FAFSA financial aid starts at the student's home university. Students will need to see their Financial Aid Advisor (or academic advisor) to discuss their desire to use financial aid to pay for the Wildlands Studies project. Usually the advisor or Financial Aid office sends Wildlands Studies a Consortium Agreement which we complete and fax back to them. The financial aid funds are disbursed to the student. Once the student receives the funds, the student then pays Wildlands Studies fees directly.

Q: The student's financial aid will not be disbursed until after the fees are due for the project. Does this mean that the student will have to withdraw?

A: In most circumstances, we are able to work with students to help them participate on the project of their choice. Students should contact our office to discuss a payment plan. We usually require a non-refundable deposit at the time when the fees are normally due, and the due dates are listed on each of our project web pages. The full fees must be paid prior to the start of the project.

Q: Does the Program fee or the In-country group fee cover airfare costs?

A: No. Airfare is a separate expense paid by the student.   There are three main fees associated with a Wildlands Studies project: the Program Fee which serves as the academic fee; the In-County Logistics Fee, which covers the majority of costs on-site, with the exception of food; and the flight cost, paid directly by the student.

Q: Are the Wildlands Studies fees considered qualified expenses for a 529 College Savings Plan?

A: Many students have been able to use their 529 account to cover their Wildlands Studies academic fee. However, we are a private entity and an educational partner of Western Washington University. Neither Wildlands Studies nor Western Washington University can provide you with a 1098T form. However, we can provide you with a letter at the end of the year listing project specifics, academic credit and associated costs, and many participants and parents have found this works fine for their tax filings.

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INSURANCE AND VACCINATIONS

Q: What is the minimum type of insurance required to participate in a project?

A: For Domestic and International Projects, participants must show proof of medical insurance coverage.

For international programs, participants must also provide travel insurance of the following types and minimum limits: Accident and Sickness policy in an amount not less than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000) for major medical expense benefit; an Accidental Death and Dismemberment policy in an amount not less than Fifteen Thousand Dollars ($15,000); an Emergency Medical Evacuation policy in an amount not less than Twenty Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000); and a Repatriation of Remains policy in an amount not less than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000). This travel insurance policy needs to commence on the first scheduled day outside the United States and terminate upon return to the United States.           

Wildlands Studies has no obligation to provide medical or other health services to a participant, nor liability for failure to do so. Students accept full financial responsibility for any and all medical and other health services that may be required as a result of participation in the Wildlands Studies project. Wildlands Studies works closely with STA Travel (Student Travel Agency) and refers participants to STA to purchase travel insurance for our projects. However, there are other agencies that provide travel insurance, including Travelguard (www.travelguard.com) and Gateway International (www.gatewayplans.com) as well as others.

Q: What inoculations will a student need for an international project?

A: Students should consult a travel nurse or doctor at least six weeks prior to participation on a project. They need to be sure to discuss with the physician the location(s) to which our project travels, so the doctor or nurse can appropriately determine the inoculations needed. Students will want to keep inoculation records on-hand in case this information is needed to enter into the country or in case of emergency. Up-to-date information about travel, inoculations, and disease risk is available at www.cdc.gov, a site maintained by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At Wildlands Studies, we refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website when reviewing vaccination requirements for travel and strongly recommend all participants read the information online about the project specific location.

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PROJECT LOGISTICS

Q: How do I know that my son/daughter arrived safely?

A: We ask all students to contact their families upon arrival to a project and provide them with either access to phones or internet, and often both. Though we encourage students to contact their parents regularly, some students become so involved with the project that they neglect to contact home even when they have the opportunity. Furthermore, direct communication with family on a regular basis is not always possible because of limited access to phones and cell towers in our project locations. Once students connect with their Wildlands Studies Instructors at the meeting place, the Wildlands Studies office is notified. Wildlands Studies maintains regular contact with instructors through the duration of the project, and our main office can help you contact your student, if necessary.

Q: How do I communicate with my son/daughter during the project?

A: Because of the intensity and the remoteness of some Wildlands Studies Projects, two or three weeks may pass with no access to means of communication. We ask students to contact their families upon arrival on their project, we then try to provide access to phone or internet throughout the course, though this is often infrequent (about once every two weeks) because we are in the field most of the time. Our projects frequently travel to places where there is no cell phone coverage or means to charge cell phones for extended periods of time, particularly when we are in the backcountry and, thus, communication with family and friends for some projects may occur only once or twice during the entire project. Even when access to a phone is available, it can often be a public pay phone in an area with no cell phone or internet coverage, therefore, not all students on a particular project will be able to talk for long and in some cases may not even get through to their families during the allotted communication time. It is very important that family and friends understand that students will have extremely limited communication during the project so that they do not worry about students unnecessarily. The Wildlands Studies office in Santa Cruz, CA will know how to get in contact with students in the case of an emergency back home.

Q: Can I visit my son/daughter during the project?

A: Wildlands Studies programs are intensely scheduled, with most, if not all, days having program activities. This does not leave much time-off, and therefore, aside from visiting scholars and guest lecturers, visitors are not allowed during the program. If friends or family would like to visit off-site before or after the project dates, that is ideal. Students and their visitors should plan accordingly for their own off-site travel, as no accommodations are available at our field sites.

Q: How can I send care packages to my son/daughter during the project?

A: This depends on the project. Most of our projects are continually travelling through the host country in rural or remote areas and will not have an address to which you can send mail or packages. On only a couple of our domestic projects can you send a package. Please refer to the Logistics letter for the specific project that is emailed to students when they are accepted.

Q: Can I send money to my son/daughter during the project?

A: Most of our projects travel in areas with little access to modern conveniences. Hence, it is better to send the student with money, traveler's checks, ATM cards and/or credit cards so that they can access money when they need it. Please see the specific project details for information about what form of money to bring. For example, in some places ATMs are not available, while in other locations, travelers checks are no longer accepted. Our logistics packet will describe in detail the best way for your student to manage their money while on the program.

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