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Study Abroad COVID-19 Response FAQ

Has Geneseo suspended any study abroad programs?

As of March 4, based on CDC and U.S. State Department elevated travel advisories as well as guidance from SUNY Office of Global Affairs, SUNY Geneseo has suspended spring study abroad programs in Italy, Japan, and South Korea.

As of March 10, the State University of New York (SUNY) suspended all spring and spring break study abroad programs in all locations. Students were notified of study abroad program cancellation on March 10.

For official notice of spring program suspension, please refer to this Study Abroad Program Update.

As of March 20, the State University of New York (SUNY) cancelled all scheduled Summer 2020 study abroad programs. The State Department has issued a  Level 4 Advisory, recommending no international travel for any U.S. citizen due to the global impact of COVID-19 and existing international in-country travel restrictions and quarantines.

Has Geneseo suspended any study away (domestic) programs?

As of March 11, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office suspended all spring break study away (domestic) programs. Students were notified of the study abroad program cancellation on March 11.

Will Geneseo be suspending other study abroad programs?

Because the global health outlook related to COVID-19 is fluid and can change rapidly, the timing of our program suspension decisions will be based on a balance of global health information, public health and safety advisories, travel restrictions, visa application dates, and program deadlines, as well as institutional and student feedback. Once a decision has been made to suspend a program, SUNY Geneseo will promptly notify our students and institutions with details about alternative program options.

Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, we ask that students currently abroad or planning to study abroad in the future stay in touch with the Study Abroad Office and watch for updates from our office.

How does SUNY Geneseo assess the risk of a location?

SUNY Geneseo determines location safety by following U.S. State Department  Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning level alerts, and World Health Organization (WHO) advice. U.S. State Department Level 2 and CDC Warning Level 2 are our normal maximum operating levels. If a country or city is below a U.S. State Department Level 3 and CDC Warning Level 3, it is normally well within SUNY Geneseo’s risk tolerance. Any elevation in advisory levels indicates a change in condition, prompting us to review the situation, assess impact on our students and staff, and evaluate whether we can maintain our programs.

Our assessment includes information from all available intelligence, including local staff, our intelligence providers, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), and cross-reference with our fellow SUNY study abroad offices. Sometimes the warnings are particular to a region or a group of people, and we can safely and confidently mitigate the risk. When our review aligns with the government advisory and mitigation proves impossible or impractical, we decide to suspend a program. However, this assessment and decision making is superseded by decisions and advisement given by the State University of New York and Governor’s office.

Information on the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory levels

What if a student wants to come home from a location deemed safe?

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office also understands that in some cases a student may wish to return home from a program that is within our risk tolerance. For further information, contact the Study Abroad Office. In response to COVID-19, as of March 10, 2020, all SUNY and CUNY Spring 2020 study abroad programs have been suspended regardless of the travel advisory levels currently associated with those locations. 

What happens when Geneseo suspends a current or upcoming program?

If we suspend a current program, we will immediately notify students, their partner university, and any faculty or staff leading the program (program leaders). Students should contact their airlines to inquire about rebooking their return tickets home. Most international carriers have suspended change fees for rebooking of tickets. Students are advised to keep copies of all receipts as it is unclear if the State University of New York (SUNY) will be issuing any refunds or reimbursements, but to seek reimbursements, one must usually show proof of expenditures.  The Study Abroad Office will advocate for students in determining the options for completion of academic requirements. We urge the affected students to contact the Study Abroad Office with questions in regards to this.

We’ve prepared an academic options guidance document to help students find academic alternatives for suspended Spring 2020 study abroad programs.

If an upcoming program should be suspended, we will swiftly notify students, partner institutions, and program leaders. We’ll also direct students to campus offices for assistance with academic planning, financial aid, and other considerations.

What academic contingency plans exist for suspended programs?

If a program is suspended or if a student decides to return home from a program, and the university partner abroad offers distance learning, SUNY Geneseo expects the returning student to complete their term through the distance learning option. If students are offered by their host institution to continue coursework remotely due to COVID-19, coursework will be designed for students to continue learning through alternative means to satisfy course completion. Coursework might be delivered in a multitude of ways,  allowing for maximum flexibility.

If a program is cancelled or if a student decides to return home from a program, and the university partner abroad does not offer distance learning, SUNY Geneseo will work with students to build a schedule for the term. 

We’ve prepared an academic options guidance document to help students find academic alternatives for suspended Spring 2020 study abroad programs.

In the case of a spring break or summer faculty-led program, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office will work with the faculty member to make arrangements for students to complete the coursework. Depending on the type of course, this will likely be accomplished via distance learning, likely including synchronous and/or asynchronous instruction.

What if students have upcoming independent travel plans?

We encourage students, family members, and partner university colleagues to stay up to date with travel advisories, review their independent travel plans, and develop contingency options in the event that travel is made more difficult by health concerns.

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office does not monitor independent student travel. Students who are currently studying abroad should carefully consider independent travel plans and not visit locations under travel restrictions of a known virus "hotspot". Students should check with their local host university international office, the CDC, and the WHO prior to travel to reconfirm local conditions. We strongly encourage students to inform the Study Abroad Office of any independent travel plans during their study abroad program. Travel itineraries and contact details should be emailed to

Students traveling independently will be required to abide by any public health or safety measures imposed by local authorities. Students traveling independently should exercise standard hygiene practices and consult with local health care providers if they experience symptoms associated with COVID-19. They should also prepare for extended disruptions by bringing along passports, medications, insurance information, and other necessary personal items and documentation.

Are there additional risks for students traveling abroad independently?

During the COVID-19 outbreak, some locations have experienced rapidly changing conditions and serious disruptions, including public transportation curtailment, mandatory health screening, regional entry and exit prohibitions, mandatory quarantine, and other significantly-impactful public health measures. While SUNY Geneseo provides pre-departure information to assist students in making good choices to minimize risk, the risk assumed (health, safety, and academic/program) by traveling outside of their country of study is their own. Students considering independent travel are strongly advised to research local conditions, anticipate potential complications that may impact their personal health, safety, or ability to complete their academic program, and prepare for possible long-term disruptions.

Students should be keenly aware that whether or not they are exposed to the virus that the local response to the virus could dramatically alter their travel plans.

What if a study abroad student thinks they have the coronavirus?

It is important to remember that the symptoms of COVID-19 disease are very similar to a common cold or the flu. In all likelihood, that’s exactly what it would be. If a student falls ill and exhibits the symptoms for COVID-19, they should remain at home and contact the international office of their host university or their program leader, who will advise them on the next steps to take with local medical authorities. If a student is unable to connect with the international office or program leaders, the student should contact the emergency phone number for their specific country, disclose their symptoms, and follow the guidance of local medical authorities. The US State Department has compiled a list of emergency phone numbers abroad

Students returning to the United States or home country are expected to notify their local health department.  If a returns to the United States or their home country and if they show symptoms, should inform their medical provider where they have been traveling. The medical provider, not the student, will decide whether or not the student is tested for COVID-19.

It is strongly advised that students with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and/or other illnesses, and those on immunosuppressive medications, seek guidance from their primary care providers and/or specialists before deciding to travel. 

What if a student needs to be quarantined abroad?

If a student has a medically mandated quarantine abroad, due to illness or prior travel,  please notify the Study Abroad Office and contact the local U.S. Embassy. If you have not already done so, it is encouraged and advised to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the Department of State. 

Will students be required to quarantine if they return to New York State?

At this moment, students who are returning from any country that has a CDC Level 2 or 3 travel warnings may be subjected to a 14-day precautionary quarantine. Students should contact the New York State Department of Health and local county Department of Health authorities to notify them of their return to the US, identify where they have been traveling, and seek advice and updates in regards to self-isolation or quarantine measures. 

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office does not have the authority to determine quarantine measures.

If students provide information about their return to the USA to the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, SUNY Geneseo will notify the Livingston County Department of Health. The local health department has the responsibility to follow up with the returning individuals to determine if and how quarantine will be carried out.

Spring 2020 Semester Students

By when do students need to decide to come back to the United States? 

The  SUNY waiver form was due to the Study Abroad Office by March 20, 2020 by 12:00 PM EST. SUNY is currently encouraging students who plan to return home to  do so as soon as possible after students’ have the opportunity to make travel arrangements and speak with appropriate stakeholders including their host- and home institutions.

Remember that the spread of COVID-19 presents us all with a dynamic set of circumstances that are changing rapidly.  By remaining in place, students could encounter inconveniences and obstacles associated with the escalating local and international response to the pandemic.

Are there different return deadlines depending on the CDC and U.S. Department of State for each country? 

There are no separate return deadlines for U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory levels of 1, 2, 3, or 4, or for the CDC Travel Notices levels of 1, 2, or 3. 

Will there be reimbursement of tuition?

For all students who will be completing their semester credits through alternative means approved by the Study Abroad Office, there will be no reimbursement for tuition because the credits will be granted towards their degree completion. 

Will there be reimbursement for housing costs related to shortening time abroad?

Any possibility of reimbursement for housing costs will be determined on a case-by-case basis because it depends largely on the policies of the host-institution or partnering housing facility. It is advised that students speak with their International Office and/or accommodation office to seek the possibility of a refund. No reimbursements can be issued without proof of expenditures. Therefore, students must collect and keep all pertinent documentation of their expenses. 

Will there be reimbursement for flight change costs?

At this moment, it is uncertain if students will be reimbursed by SUNY for the costs to change flights. For the possibility of reimbursement, students should collect and keep all relevant documentation of their expenses. 

Will the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office be reaching out to host-institutions to explain the situation? 

SUNY Geneseo notified all host-institution partners that SUNY has decided to suspend all SUNY and CUNY study abroad programs for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. Students should connect with their International Office at their host-institution and discuss their decision to stay or leave.  

If professors at the host-institution are unable to accommodate distance learning, does this mean students need to take alternative coursework upon return to the United States?

If the university partner abroad does not offer distance learning, SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office will advocate for students in determining the options for completion of their academic requirements.  Students will be able to be granted partial credit for the “seat time” that has already been committed by the student.

We’ve also prepared an academic options guidance document to help students find other academic alternatives available through SUNY for suspended Spring 2020 study abroad programs.

If a student is allowed to complete their semester through remote learning, will they still receive credit? 

Yes; if the host-institution university offers students to complete their semesters through remote learning opportunities, then students will receive credit for their semester upon program completion and SUNY Geneseo’s receipt of the transcript from the host-institution university.

Regarding SUNY’s assertion that it will not be providing any assistance to students who choose to stay abroad, what services could Geneseo offer students abroad in case of emergency that the US embassy could not?

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office can offer guidance and advocacy regarding the completion of academic credits. For all matters relating to safety in-country, the student should work directly with U.S. Embassy officials.

If students decide to stay abroad and finish the semester at their host-institution, will they still be able to receive credits?

Should students elect to continue their study abroad program and remain in their host-country, and that host institution issues a transcript, SUNY Geneseo will continue to accept students’ transcripts upon program completion. Students will not be de-registered from Study Abroad or from SUNY Geneseo.

What will happen to a student’s Financial Aid if they elect to stay within their host-country?

Financial aid will not be impacted if a student remains full-time abroad (the equivalent of 12+ US credits) and are able to complete their semester coursework. However, should the situation deteriorate within the host country and the student is not able to finish their semester, SUNY will have no responsibility for assisting in credit recovery and financial aid may be impacted. 

Will students still be able to access their UnitedHealthCare insurance should they elect to remain in their host-country?

Should a student choose to remain abroad, UnitedHealthCare (UHC) insurance coverage will continue through a student’s original study abroad program dates. However, students who remain abroad will need to work directly with UHC to get assistance to resolve issues. For all students covered by UHC, if a provider deems appropriate to test a student, the COVID-19 testing kit will be covered by the UHC policy for all groups of SUNY students.  

Information on how to contact UHC 

Resources for Study Abroad Students