Admission & Aid

Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

When should I apply?

Semester at Sea operates on a rolling admissions basis, meaning there are no application deadlines for specific semesters. However, it is recommended that you begin the application process 12 months before the semester in which you would like to participate. Students will be asked to provide an updated academic record at the conclusion of the semester prior to their participation. Applications will continue to be accepted until approximately one month before the start of the voyage.

Is the program open to students in all majors?

Yes, students from all majors regularly enroll in Semester at Sea. More than 40 majors are typically represented on any given voyage.

What are my chances of gaining admission?

If you are in good academic standing and have a good record with regard to behavior on your home campus, you will be given every consideration. Your transcript, disciplinary clearance and essay provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your potential for academic success aboard the voyage. The Institute for Shipboard Education operates with the philosophy that all undergraduate students should study abroad. We will work with you to help make it possible.

Do I have to apply for a specific semester?

Yes, however, you can transfer your application to a different voyage without reapplying. You will be required to provide updated transcripts, and an updated disciplinary clearance form, in order to be considered for admission to the later voyage.

How long will it take to hear about my admission?

Once the Office of Admission has received your completed application, including the transcript and disciplinary clearance form, you will receive a reply in about a week. It is advisable to follow up to verify that all components of your application have been received.

I am a first semester Freshman. How do I submit my academic record?

You should follow the Gap Year student application process for admission to your voyage. After you complete your first term in college, send us your undergraduate transcript and your status will change to a traditional undergraduate student.

When should I submit the $1,000 deposit to reserve a space?

As soon as you are academically admitted. The deposit is applied against the tuition and fees for the semester. It is refundable up to 90 days prior to the start of the semester should you decide that you are unable to attend.

When do voyages fill?

It varies. Voyages typically fill one to four months prior to sailing. We encourage you to submit your application early but please contact our offices if you have a last-minute opportunity to join our program for the semester.

If I am on a waiting list, what are my chances of getting a space?

Spaces regularly open as students change plans. Many students from the waiting list are accommodated. However, it is impossible to estimate how many students will be able to receive a space or how long it will take. Students on the waitlist are encouraged to consider alternative study abroad programs and establish a date by which they need to make a decision. Students may also opt to transfer to future voyages.

Do I need a passport? What about visas?

Yes, if you do not already hold a passport you should apply for one now. If you do have a passport you should check its expiration date. Your passport needs to be valid for six months beyond the end of the semester in which you enroll.

Visa requirements vary depending on the countries included on the itinerary. Typically, students need to secure two or three visas individually, with the remainder group visas obtained by ISE. Detailed information regarding passport and visa requirements are emailed to all confirmed (deposited) participants approximately 5 months prior to embarkation.

What if I need to cancel from the program?

SAS is committed to making the voyage possible for all students.  If you are considering cancellation due to financial constraints, we encourage you to contact the SAS Financial Aid Office to discuss your options.   

Please click here to view our full cancellation and payment policy.

Can there be a fuel surcharge?

Semester at Sea, like any company, sets up a yearly budget based largely on estimates of fixed and variable costs with some room for variation.  In the not too distant past we were impacted directly just as everyone in the travel industry in general, and the maritime industry in particular, with then significant overall increases in our fuel prices. Depending on each port’s regulatory and environmental requirements, we have to consider at least two different types and grades of fuel, each with significantly different price points.  Political unrest in certain parts of the world, as well as periodic natural disasters, also can contribute to increasing and unpredictable volatility as well, which in turn lends to overall instability and unpredictability in fuel prices.

Fuel charges remain a material component of our overall cost structure.  We make every effort to contain fuel costs through enhanced itinerary planning (which we conduct one to two years in advance), and through the use of standard advance fuel purchase commitment arrangements when appropriate. However, it is impossible for us to accurately predict what we might pay for fuel per voyage, port-to-port. Like airlines and major shipping companies we regrettably must offset these higher costs from time to time with additional fuel surcharges.

In advance of sailing, the Institute for Shipboard Education may enact a fuel supplement surcharge for all participants in the event that the average price for the blended types of fuel and related costs during the voyage is expected to exceed a certain budgetary threshold in pricing per metric ton. Historically this cost has been up to $9 per person per day or more, but may vary due to the volatility of the market.  These incurred costs include not only what is expected to be paid in various ports, but also include additional costs for fuel contracts entered into. These fuel contracts are intended to cushion the financial impact if future fuel prices became volatile.  Such surcharges when enacted are necessary to help offset a portion of the total excess fuel costs that exceed this budget threshold.  For more information please review our fuel surcharge policy.

Financial Aid Frequently Asked Questions

Does Semester at Sea offer financial assistance?

Yes. ISE offers a variety of need-based financial awards. Students who qualify for federal aid and loans can also receive ISE assistance. Students who do not typically qualify for federal aid/loans will also be considered for ISE assistance.

Can I use my existing financial aid on Semester at Sea?

Use of any federal aid or loans that you receive, such as Pell Grants and Stafford loans, are dependent upon the policies of your home institution. The use of any institutional aid you receive from your home school or from another source must be determined by that source. You must check with the financial aid office at your home institution to determine if your financial aid will transfer.

How do I apply for financial assistance?

For federal aid and loans you should complete the Federal Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) on your home campus. The information that this process generates will be used both for federal aid and loans and for ISE assistance. Semester at Sea financial aid deadlines are typically 3.5 months prior to voyage embarkation date. Visit the ISE Scholarships page for applications and deadlines.

What do the shipboard student assistant positions entail?

Generally student assistants get the benefit of arriving a day before departure to meet the faculty and staff and to help prepare for embarkation. After embarkation students are expected to work 2 hours per day while at sea. Students are not expected to work during days in port. Student assistant positions are usually in the following departments: library, computer lab, field office, administrative office, student life, and registrar’s office.

What is a consortium agreement and what does it mean to me?

A consortium agreement is a written understanding between two schools that will outline issues such as credit transfer, financial aid, and course pre-approval. Many schools require a consortium agreement to study abroad. Almost all schools will require a consortium agreement to transfer financial aid. Please visit your financial aid or study abroad office for more information.

If my school will not process my federal aid for Semester at Sea, can I get that aid through Colorado State University?

Possibly. You will be enrolled as a visiting, non-degree seeking student at Colorado State University. Students must be degree-seeking at their home institution in order to receive federal financial aid. Please contact the Semester at Sea financial aid office if your home institution will not process aid.

What other loan options are there besides the federal Stafford loan?

Private student loans are available from most large banking institutions. The internet is a valuable resource to compare rates and payback policies.

I get a scholarship on my home campus. How can I tell if I can apply it to my Semester at Sea?

You’ll need to check with your school’s study abroad office and/or financial aid office to find out if your scholarship can be applied to Semester at Sea.

I’m working very hard to put the financing together. What deadlines to I need to keep in mind?

Payment is due 90 days before the voyages. This due date may be extended with verification of financial aid and disbursement information.