Academic Resource Center

Study Abroad & Exchange Programs

Gain a global perspective.

At Western Colorado University, we are always striving to increase your global engagement opportunities. Studying abroad will not only help you become a responsible and engaged citizen by cultivating cultural awareness, but it also fosters the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in the global economy.

During your time abroad, you can take advantage of the opportunity to travel the world, live in diverse settings and make your education an immersive experience that will help you reach your personal, professional and academic goals. Just some of the study abroad locations include Argentina, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, England, France, Greece, Harlaxton, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Thailand and all throughout the United States and Canada.

Making a global impact

Energy Management students install solar panels in Peru during an international education course.

How It Works

Take the next step towards an international education.

Studying abroad or participating in an exchange program is the opportunity of a lifetime. To be a successful, well-rounded professional requires more than just an academic education. It also requires the cultural sensitivity and awareness that is fostered by traveling and living abroad. Here’s how it works:

  • Have at least a 2.5 GPA
  • Be a degree-seeking student
  • Have completed 24 credit hours at Western
  • Be enrolled full-time the semester before participating
  • Be in good standing with Student Affairs

Step 1: Explore Western’s Study Away partner websites to research Study Away options and decide where you would like to go

Step 2: Meet with Mikay Elliott, Western’s Study Abroad Coordinator.

Step 3: Apply for a passport if you don’t already have one.

Step 4: Talk with your academic advisor about timing and which classes you should take while on exchange

Step 5: Apply to your program and term. Be aware of specific application deadlines.

Step 6: Review the Study Away Financial Aid information, and meet with Tanner Stillwell, Western’s Exchange Program Financial Aid Advisor, to discuss funding options.

Step 7: Submit a Transfer Pre-Approval Form to Carrie Reinecke in the office of the registrar.

All credits transfer back to Western when a student studies with an affiliate provider. Courses can be taken abroad that will fill major and minor requirements as well. Students have access to financial aid, loans or scholarships they are receiving through Western when studying with an affiliate provider.

  • Academics- What coursework do you want to take? Have you thought about research or an internship?
  • Language- Do you want to develop existing foreign language skills or learn a new language?
  • Timing- How long do you want to be on exchange? When do you want to be on exchange?
  • Location- Where do you want to go? What kind of climate and/or recreational activities are most appealing to you?
  • Finances- What is your budget for an exchange program? What sources of funding are available to you?
  • Value- What do you hope to gain from an exchange experience? How will this experience help you in reaching any personal, professional or academic goals?

National Student Exchange

Cross state, regional and cultural borders to find your purpose.

The National Student Exchange is an opportunity for you to live and study at a university in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico or other United States Territories. The exchange program is a perfect fit if you want to challenge yourself to experience life from a different perspective, while still paying in-state tuition. Visit the National Student Exchange website to explore the options available to you.

Outgoing NSE students are students who are currently attending Western and exchanging to another university.

  • Meet with academic advisor
    • Discuss possible exchange sites and course selection with your academic advisor. Exchanging to another school requires careful planning; you’re responsible for picking out classes with your academic advisor and determine how the credit will transfer back to Western.
    • Plan ahead for the semester of your return.
  • Complete NSE Application, submit two references and $250 fee.
    • Meet with Western’s Study Away Coordinator to get the application.
    • Review NSE guidelines, eligibility, rules and conditions at nse.org. Your exchange isn’t guaranteed, so it’s wise to list several schools on your application.
    • Understand the difference between Plan A (Host Payment) and Plan B (Home Payment) and how financial aid works on both plans.
    • Pay your $250 non-refundable fee.
  • Financial Aid
    • List all FAFSA codes of the schools you’re applying to on your financial aid application—in addition to Western. If you’re accepted on Plan A (Host Payment), your aid will be awarded and disbursed from the host institution. If you’re accepted on Plan B (Home Payment), your aid will be awarded and disbursed from Western.
    • Review your financial aid carefully; each student’s plan is entirely individual and unique.

Incoming NSE students are students who are enrolling at Western for an exchange.

When do I find out if I got in?

Students who will be coming to Western on an exchange will be notified of their acceptance by their home NSE Coordinator after the annual March conference. If you’re applying after the March conference, Western still accepts students to come on Plan A with limited availability on Plan B.

What do I do once I’m accepted?
  • Once accepted, you’ll be contacted by your home NSE Coordinator. You’ll need to complete the Placement Acceptance Form (PAF) and Conditions of Placement Form to accept the terms and conditions of your exchange and submit it to your home NSE Coordinator. Your home coordinator will send those forms to Western’s NSE Coordinator.
  • We’ll process you as an incoming NSE student after receiving your forms. You’ll receive an email from Western’s NSE Coordinator detailing everything you need to do in preparation for arrival at Western. All incoming NSE students are required to pay an $100 processing fee, payable here.
  • You’ll then receive information about how to register for classes. Registration will begin in April for the fall semester and in November for the spring semester. You must send an official transcript from your home institution to:

Western Colorado University
NSE Coordinator, Mikay Elliott
1 Western Way – Taylor Hall 302D
Gunnison, CO 81231

  • You can begin looking through course schedules as soon as they come online. Call 970.943.7056 to schedule a phone registration appointment with Western’s NSE Coordinator. As an incoming NSE student, you’re responsible for speaking with your home academic advisor to select classes and determine how credits earned will transfer back to your home institution. You must meet all of Western’s prerequisites to take courses. Once you’re registered for classes, you will be required to register and pay for orientation.
What are my housing options?

All incoming NSE students must live on campus. Learn more about Residence Life at Western.

Does Western have an RA exchange program?

Yes. Incoming NSE students may apply to be an RA. RA’s must exchange for a full year and will only be accepted on Plan A.

Can I participate in an internship at Western as an incoming student?

Western can’t facilitate internships for college credit for non-Western students. Your home institution’s advisor must create the learning objectives, outcomes and requirements for credit and approval the transferring of credit. Tuition for credited internships must be paid for to the home institution regardless of the Plan A or B exchange and these credits will not count towards the 12 required credits for full-time enrollment.

How do I get to Gunnison?

There are several airports that you can fly into:

  • Gunnison Airport, GUC (local, walking distance to campus)
  • Montrose Airport, MTJ (60 miles away, no public transportation to Gunnison)
  • Grand Junction Airport, GJT (150 miles away, no public transportation to Gunnison)
  • Denver International Airport, DIA (300 miles away, public transportation available to Gunnison)
  • Bus transportation from Denver to Gunnison via Blackhills Stage Line
  • Local free bus transportation throughout Gunnison and Crested Butte via RTA​*Western doesn’t provide reception or departure transportation for NSE students.

Find the right opportunity for you

Student, Amanda Kill, speaks with a study abroad representative during Western’s Study Away Fair.

Additional Resources

Find answers to your questions about studying abroad.

If you’re curious or have questions about Western’s study abroad options, we offer a variety of resources to answer your questions.

Step 1: Complete your FAFSA
  • Go to the FAFSA website and file your report as you would for any other academic year
  • For NSE host payment exchanges include host school FAFSA code available at NSE.org
Step 2: Set up e-Refund for FAFSA or Scholarships

Complete the following steps to set up e-Refund:

  • Log-in to MyWestern
  • Click on ‘Student & Financial Aid Menu’
  • Click on ‘Financial Service and Billing’
  • Click on ‘Account Summary by Term’ or ‘Account Summary’
  • Scroll to the bottom and select ‘Pay My Bill’
  • Set up e-Refund

Tip: Be sure to have your bank routing and account number available when completing these steps

Step 3: Complete All Financial Aid Requirements
  • Check with Western’s Financial Aid office to ensure you’ve completed all the necessary aid requirements for Western before your departure.
  • Apply for the Parent Plus Loan (optional)

Applying for this loan is only necessary if additional aid is needed. This must be done before the Financial Verification step.

Step 4: Complete your financial verification form
  • Before departing, you must complete your financial verification form, usually located in the application portal of your exchange provider
  • Take this completed form as well as a bill or invoice to Tanner Stillwell, Western’s Study Away financial advisor

Tanner Stillwell: tstillwell@western.edu; 970-943-3043; Taylor Hall 314G

Important information to consider

  • Financial aid awards are released after grades are posted in the spring

One award and/or scholarship is issued for the academic year

  • Funds are dispersed in two portions, once in the Fall and once in the Spring

Release dates are 10 days before the first day of class any semester

  • Summer aid is dependent on what is not used by student during prior Fall and Spring semesters
  • All awards and scholarships are paid to the student first and the student is responsible for paying for their program (except for semester exchanges with Harlaxton).

If e-Refund is not set up and the funds are dispersed after your departure, your check is kept at the Cashier’s Office or mailed to your address on file and you won’t be able to deposit it.

  • If your award does not cover the cost of exchange, the remaining balance is expected before the due date specified by the program provider

For additional questions, please contact Tanner Stillwell.

It’s important to ensure your passport and/or VISA are up to date before participating in an exchange program of any kind. Use this guide to learn what documents are required before you study away.

How to apply for a passport

Step 1: Complete the paperwork
  • It only takes about 10 minutes to complete a passport application. You can do so by picking up a paper copy in the Academic Resource Center, Taylor 302, or filling out the application online. Make sure you have access to a printer in order to print your application.
Step 2: Upload a photo
  • Submit a 2″x2″ square photo with a white background
Step 3: Provide evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Please evidence of U.S. citizenship with an original or certified U.S. birth certificate (you can order a certified birth certificate online if you do not currently have one)
  • If you do not have a birth certificate, you must provide another official form of proof of citizenship. A list of alternate acceptable documents can be found online.
Step 4: Provide Identification
  • You must provide one of the following documents to prove your identification:
    • Valid U.S. driver’s license (provide a photocopy of the front and back, each on their own separate page)
    • Previously issued, undamaged U.S. passport
    • Certificate of naturalization
    • Current government ID (city, state or federal)
    • Current military ID (military or dependent)
Step 5: Pay passport application fees
  • The standard total application fee for adults is around $145 ($110 for the passport book and then an additional fee for processing). The $110 application fee can only be paid by check, money order or cashier’s check made payable to the Department of State. The processing fee varies.
Step 6: Submit your application

You must submit all of your application materials to the Gunnison Post Office (200 N. Wisconsin St.). Applications are taken by appointment Monday-Friday, 8:00am-1:00pm.

How to renew a passport

You can renew your passport by mail using (form DS-82) if your most recent passport:

  • Is submitted with your application
  • Is undamaged other than normal “wear and tear”
  • Was issued when you were 16 years or older
  • Was issued within the past 15 years
  • Was issued in your current name (you may document your name change online if necessary)

Western Colorado University’s Study Away Fair is a great place to find out about all of the exchange opportunities open to students, both domestically and abroad. Read through the following steps to learn how to make the most of your time at the Study Away Fair.

Before the Study Away Fair

Before attending the Study Away Fair, we suggest you:

  • Visit the study abroad and exchange programs page on Western.edu
  • Read about Western’s study away partner programs
  • Make an appointment with your academic advisor to see how an exchange program could fit into your plan of study

The day of the Study Away Fair

Not sure where to start? Take the following steps to be engaged.

Ask questions- Strike up a conversation with affiliate program representatives and study away alumni who are staffing the tables. They want to talk to you about their experience and get you excited about their program! Don’t forget to ask program representative specific questions about:

  • What makes their program unique?
  • Excursion and recreation opportunities
  • The cost of the program
  • Scholarship and grant opportunities
  • Notable academic programs
  • Travel logistics
  • Language requirements

Get involved- We want to help you learn as much as you can through participation at the Study Away Fair. While attending, don’t forget to:

  • Complete the Study Away interest survey
  • Check out the upcoming International Education Week events schedule
  • Enter the Study Away raffle
  • Learn about the Study Away 101 session
  • Get passport application and renewal information
  • Visit the Study Away alumni table to learn about the experiences of other Western students who have studied abroad
  • Grab some Study Away swag

Post-Fair Follow up

Stop by the ARC and make an appointment with Mikay Elliott (melliott@western.edu, 970.943.7056), the Study Away Coordinator. She will guide you through the application process, help you find funding opportunities, explain the transfer pre-approval process for course credit and answer any questions you may have.

Western works with several professional organizations to help provide students with study away opportunities that meet their academic and personal goals. Review this list of Western partner programs to choose a program that works best for you:

Affiliate Providers
Health & Safety

We understand you may have some questions about your health and safety while you’re studying away. We encourage you to visit the following sites before your exchange period:

Faculty Programs

For information and application materials for these programs visit Extended Studies.

Taylor Hall 303 | extendedstudies@western.edu | 970.943.2885

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs around the globe. Fulbright grants are fully funded international exchange opportunities.

Applicants include:

  • Recent graduates: Graduating seniors and recent bachelor’s-degree recipients have some undergraduate preparation and/or direct work or internship experience related to the project.
  • Master’s and doctoral candidates: Graduate-level candidates must demonstrate the capacity for independent study or research, together with a general knowledge of the history, culture and current events of the countries to which they are applying.
  • Young professionals: Candidates include writers, creative and performing artists, journalists, and those in law, business and other professional fields. Competitive candidates who have up to five years of professional study and/or experience in the field in which they are applying will be considered.

For more information, visit us.fulbrightonline.org or contact Mikay Elliott (melliott@western.edu).

The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, thereby gaining skills critical to our national security and economic prosperity.

The Gilman Scholarship Program broadens the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. The program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries or areas and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security). Veterans of military service are encouraged to apply, and preference is given to veterans when other factors are equivalent. By supporting undergraduate students who have high financial need, the program has been successful in supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad.

Scholarships are up to $5,000 with an additional $3,000 available for the Critical Need Language Award.

To be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship, an applicant must be:

  • A United States citizen.
  • An undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions).
  • Receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of their study abroad program or internship.
  • In the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program of at least two weeks for community college students and three weeks for students from four-year institutions, in a single country or area and eligible for credit from the student’s home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement.

For more information, visit www.gilmanscholarship.org or contact Mikay Elliott (melliott@western.edu).

Department Information

Study Abroad & Exchange Programs

Director

Mikay Elliott

Study Abroad Coordinator/Academic & Lecturer in Spanish

Contact Information

970.943.7056

arc@western.edu

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Taylor Hall 302D
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231