Critical Language Scholarship Program | Information for Participants
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Information for Participants

CLS Finalist Frequently Asked Questions

Congratulations on your selection for the Critical Language Scholarship Program! In order to inform your decision, we have compiled the following Frequently Asked Questions.

Note that if you are awaiting further site placement information, that information will be sent to you soon, and in advance of the deadline to accept or decline the award. If you decide to accept the CLS award, we look forward to working with you over the coming months to prepare for a rewarding and challenging summer of language learning.

Please read through all of the questions that apply to you below. If you have any questions that do not appear on this list, contact your Program Officer or email us at cls@americancouncils.org.


All Participants

Q: Can I defer my CLS award to next summer?

A: No, the CLS award cannot be deferred. If you would like to participate in the CLS Program next summer, you will need to apply and be selected again. Declining the CLS award will not impact your ability to participate in future programs.

Q: If I decline the award, does this unfavorably influence future CLS applications?

A: We understand that students may decline the award for a variety of personal, academic, and professional reasons. If you decline this year, it does not negatively impact any future CLS applications you may submit.

Q: I am applying to multiple scholarships that may have conflicting dates with the CLS Program. Is there any way I can either begin the program late or leave the program early?

A: The dates for the CLS Program are very strict. All orientation activities are required, therefore you cannot begin the program late. Under rare circumstances, you may be permitted an exception to leave the program up to three days early for academic reasons (such as to attend classes at your home university), but no earlier. Please talk to your Program Officer if you believe your situation may qualify for an early departure.

Q: I will not hear back from my other scholarship applications until after the acceptance deadline. May I have an extension?

A: The deadline to accept or decline the CLS award is firm. If you opt to decline the CLS award after initially accepting it for any reason besides a critical incident (e.g. medical or family emergency), you may be responsible for the repayment of award costs that have been incurred (including for travel to and from the host country where relevant, any advance stipend issued for the program, and any housing and meal funds already expended on your behalf). We recognize that you may need to make a difficult decision about your summer plans without having all the information you would want.

Q: I have a very important wedding/job interview/family event in the U.S. during the summer. Will I be allowed to leave for a few days during the program?

A: No, you may not leave the program or host country for any reason during the CLS Program unless you do not plan to return. Participants in virtual programming will not be allowed to take extended absences during the summer program and should plan to schedule other activities around their program requirements.

Q: Will I be able to travel during the program?

A: You will have opportunities to participate in organized cultural excursions and activities during the CLS Program. You may also have some limited free time for independent travel within your host country during the program, but this varies from site to site and is not guaranteed. Additional travel restrictions may be placed on students depending on local health policies and the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in your host country. You must share information with local program staff prior to any independent travel, and travel cannot interfere with your ability to participate in mandatory program activities. You will not be allowed to leave the host country during the program except in cases of emergency. Participants in virtual programming will not be allowed to take extended absences during the summer program and should plan to schedule other activities around their program requirements.

Q: How will I be placed in my classes?

A: In most cases, placement tests and/or an interview with teachers will be conducted prior to the start of classes. The results of this process will facilitate the assignment of students into classes based on level. It is common for students to be at different levels in their language-learning process. You will be placed in classes based on your level, but you should also expect some minor variation in level within your classes, as each CLS student comes from a different language-learning background. The goal of the CLS Program is to master foreign language concepts, which might mean reviewing some materials you have already covered.

Q: I have received the scholarship but have not been placed in a specific site yet. When will I know where I am going, and is there a way to choose where I am placed?

A: Placement depends on a number of factors and students cannot choose their program site. Final site placement will occur at different dates depending on your program language, but you will know where you will be placed before the deadline to accept your award. Your Program Officer will provide more information as soon as it is available.

Q: I see disability accommodation forms in the accepted student portal that do not apply to me. Am I required to fill these out?

A: No, please only fill out these forms if you have a disability for which you are requesting accommodations.

Q: My registrar’s office has requested a syllabus or course information before they determine whether I can import credit from the CLS Program. Is this information available?

A: Yes. Please email your Program Officer to receive CLS course information specific to your language. However, your exact course numbers and titles cannot be guaranteed until after completion of the CLS Program when course placement has been finalized by your institute. For that reason, we advise students to get more courses approved than what will be taken during the CLS Program. During the CLS Program you should also save course materials provided by your teachers (like syllabi, assignment descriptions, major exams) to show your registrar’s office when you return. Note that participants in virtual programming are not currently able to receive academic credit from the CLS Program for their participation, although the participant’s home institution may be able to issue credit. Participants should speak with advising staff at their home institution for more information.


Participating in Virtual Institutes

Q: Is there a possibility that in-person programming will be reinstituted if the health situation improves?

A: Due to the long planning timelines necessary to administer each program and the unpredictability of the global health crisis, there are no plans to reopen 2021 programming in countries where it has been moved to virtual.

Q: What does it mean that academic credit may become available at a later date?

As part of the federal response to COVID-19 in 2020, colleges and universities were authorized to provide credit for coursework that was moved to virtual. That authorization has been extended through the spring 2021 semester, but a decision on extending authorization into the summer is still pending.

We expect that it will become possible to offer credit for those activities, however there is not a timeline for that decision. If and when credit becomes available for virtual programming this summer, the CLS Program will notify participants and they will have the opportunity to request or decline credit for their classes.

Q: Does participation in a virtual institute count as participation in the CLS Program for the purpose of future eligibility?

A: Participation in the virtual 2021 CLS Program institutes counts as full participation in the CLS Program for purposes of future eligibility.

Participation is limited to a total of two CLS awards for any individual. Applicants who have been selected for and participated in the CLS Program one time may apply for a second award. Applicants who have successfully completed the CLS Program two or more times in overseas locations are not eligible to apply again.


Participating in In-Person Institutes

Q: I would like to stay in the host country following the program. Is this permitted?

A: In some cases participants are able to stay in the host country following the program, but are responsible for making their own travel, housing, and visa arrangements. In cases where this is not allowed, it is because firm visa restrictions require students to leave the country or because the CLS host institution or university has provided support for your visa application and/or visa registration. Participants who are eligible to stay in the host country following the program are required to make any necessary visa arrangements to stay beyond the dates of the CLS Program. ASPE, the medical benefits program provided by the CLS Program, ends the last day of the program regardless of how long you plan to stay in your host country.

Q: When will I receive my travel information, and how can I change my flight itinerary?

Participants will receive flight information a few weeks before scheduled travel. American Councils staff and the travel agent cannot make changes to accommodate individual travel plans. Because airline tickets are purchased as group tickets, you may not be able to change them or you may be required to pay a fee to do so. You are not permitted to make changes to your flight itinerary before you have arrived in your host country and doing so may jeopardize your ability to participate in the CLS Program. If you make arrangements to decline the return group flight, you must notify your Program Officer in advance, and sign a form that outlines the terms of your decision to decline the return flight.

Q: Do I need certain vaccinations in order to participate in CLS?

A: You should consult with your doctor to determine what, if any, immunizations you may need prior to participation in the CLS Program. You should also consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website on travelers' health: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. The CDC Travelers' Health website provides a general overview of health conditions by country, plus information on required and recommended vaccinations and disease prevention strategies.

Although there is not currently a requirement that travelers be vaccinated against COVID-19, it is possible as the availability of vaccines increases towards the summer that such requirements are introduced, either in the United States, host countries, or by the airlines.

Q: Can family or friends visit me during the program?

The CLS Program discourages family members or friends visiting during the program due to its intensive nature. You will be busy with classes, program activities, excursions, and obligations to local acquaintances (friends, host families or roommates, etc.).

If you choose to have visitors during the program, keep in mind that you are required to attend all CLS Program activities, and the schedule is subject to change at the last minute. Companions may not participate in CLS activities and may not live in program-arranged housing, and you may not be allowed to stay in a hotel with your visitors during regular program activities. CLS Program staff cannot provide any assistance to the family or friends of CLS participants to schedule travel, secure visas, or navigate health restrictions on travel.

Q: I will be abroad in the spring before the start of the CLS Program. Will the CLS Program pay for my ticket from my international location to the program site?

A: The CLS Program can only provide travel for participants located in the United States. If you are abroad in the spring, you will need to arrange your own travel, either back to the U.S., from where the CLS Program will cover your transportation abroad, or directly to the program location. If you are purchasing your own ticket to the program site, you must inform your Program Officer as soon as possible. The cost of that travel is not reimbursable and in some cases it may be an entry requirement that students arrive on the same plane, in which case it may not be an option to arrange your own travel.

Q: I don’t currently have a U.S. passport, my passport recently expired or is set to expire soon. What should I do?

A: First, contact your Program Officer immediately to let them know. Second, visit the State Department Travel website and begin the passport application or renewal process. In some cases, the passport process may need to be expedited in order to ensure that you are able to receive a visa on time. The CLS Program cannot pay for or reimburse any expenses related to passports.

Q: Will the program reimburse the costs for expediting a passport application to meet the deadline for the program?

A: No. The CLS Program does not cover U.S. passport fees, including those for expedited processing to meet program deadlines.

Q: I am out of the country and cannot find a licensed medical professional. What should I do?

A: First, contact your Program Officer. Second, contact your local U.S. embassy or consulate to see if they know of a licensed M.D., D.O., physician’s assistant (P.A.) or nurse practitioner (N.P.) in the area where you are travelling. Your Program Officer can assist you with finding available medical resources necessary to complete your certification, but the final responsibility is yours. In some cases, you may need to travel in order to find a licensed medical professional to complete your medical forms. CLS cannot reimburse expenses related to completing the medical forms, including for travel.

Q: I don’t have a primary care doctor or health insurance, and it will therefore be expensive for me to see a medical professional to complete my pre-program medical documents. What should I do?

A: Having a medical professional (doctor, RN or PA) complete and sign Medical Form Parts 1 and 2 is a requirement of the CLS acceptance process. If you don’t have access to a medical professional at this time, we can suggest that you look into the following resources that may be available to you:

University-affiliated medical services: Some colleges and universities employ medical professionals who offer services to students. Services may be limited, and may be offered for a fee or free of charge – each university is unique.

Local Health Department: Health Department services vary widely from state to state and from county to county, but some may offer travel vaccinations and other consultation services for a reduced fee or free of charge. Check your state’s Department of Health website to identify what services are available in your area.

Free or reduced-priced clinics in your area: There may be health clinics run by non-profit local or national organizations in your area. To find these you will likely need to do some research on your own as each town and city in the U.S. has unique local resources. Services may be limited, payment models are diverse, and insurance may or may not be accepted.

CLS cannot recommend a specific provider to you or reimburse you for any costs associated with completing Medical Forms Part 1 and 2. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Q: I am out of the country and cannot mail my passport to American Councils by the deadline listed on the checklist. What should I do?

A: Contact your Program Officer. In some cases it may be possible to obtain a visa early or late, in which case you will need to sign a waiver. However, in some cases, if you are unable to send your passport in on time, it may preclude your ability to receive a visa in time to participate in the program.

Q: I have an existing visa for my CLS destination. Can I use this visa?

A: Contact your Program Officer. Due to the nature of the CLS Program, CLS participants must abide by the visa recommendations and requirements from in-country CLS host institutions. Therefore, even if you have a valid visa to your CLS country, you may be asked to apply for a different type or length of visa.