International Scholars Program FAQs

1. What medical services are available to my child while he/she is in the United States?

Niskayuna High School has two nurses on staff every day for minor health concerns. We also have a school physician who is part of a full-service medical practice. Visiting students are welcome to become patients of that medical practice in order to receive any necessary medical assistance during their stay at Niskayuna. As indicated on the district website, each visiting student is responsible to purchase his/her own medical insurance and pay co-pays if needed. Emergency medical services are available through Ellis Hospital which is located about ten minutes from Niskayuna HS.

2. How are host families chosen and screened?

The International Scholars Program solicits host families within the community through a direct appeal in high school classrooms, direct partnerships with community organizations, and through announcements made in school publications. Any potential host family will meet with the program coordinator in the host family’s home for an on-site interview. At that time, the coordinator will review the rules and expectations of the program with the host family. All members of the host family 18 years of age and older must undergo criminal background checks before they can be approved for hosting. Host families provide information about their family situation and expectations for the program as part of the application process.

3. If my student holds an F-1 visa, to whom do I pay school fees? How should fees be paid? What are the payment deadlines?

F-1 student school fees are due to be paid in full prior to the student’s arrival in the United States. School fees should be paid directly to the Niskayuna School District Treasurer.

4. How much spending money should my child have per month?

Every student is different, but the suggested amount per month is $200-$300. This money is used to pay for incidental expenses and school supplies, outings, and lunches.

5. What is the best way to make spending money available to my child?

The easiest method for making spending money available is through the use of a debit or credit card tied to an American bank. Students have access to an account in the U.S. which can be replenished by parents as needed.

6. Am I allowed to visit my child during the school year?

We do not encourage parental visits to the U.S. during the first half of the school year. This period of independence is important for students to adjust to their new school and community. Parents are allowed to visit later in the school year as long as such a visit does not impinge on school activities and does not unduly inconvenience the host family. Host families are not required to host the parents of a visiting student.

7. When will I receive notification about my child’s acceptance to the program?

The International Scholars Program maintains an application committee that reviews applicant credentials on a rolling basis. For current 2020-2021 applicants, the program’s application deadline is June 1, 2020.

8. How long before the start of the school year should my child plan to arrive in the Niskayuna community?

Visiting students should plan to arrive one week before the beginning of the school year.

9. Will someone meet my child at the airport and accompany him/her to the home of the host family?

International students should arrange their flights to arrive in Albany International Airport and communicate their flight information to the International Scholars Program coordinator. The coordinator will meet all students at the airport and transport them to the home of their host family.

10. What is the procedure for providing orientation to student visitors from abroad?

The week before the beginning of the school year will be the time when international students gather at the high school for orientation. Students should plan to spend at least two days at school prior to the beginning of the school year to plan academic schedules, tour the school, learn about school rules and expectations and receive general information.

11. What is the procedure for planning each student’s schedules?

The International Scholars Program coordinator and host family will set up an appointment with each visiting student’s academic counselor to meet and plan the academic schedule. At that time, all visiting students should present copies of their home school transcripts translated into English. This type of information is critical to the scheduling process and will help the academic counselors to make good course selections for international students.

12. What courses are required for visiting students? How many elective courses may he/she take?

All visiting students must take courses in English, Social Studies, Math, Science and Physical Education at the appropriate level. Other courses are electives that students may choose based on their academic interests and goals. If students wish to receive a high school diploma, they must meet the prerequisite, course and examination requirements for the high school graduation option.

13. Are student visitors allowed to take part in school sports?

Yes, international students may take part in school sports at Niskayuna.

14. Are student visitors allowed to take part in all extracurricular activities?

Yes, international students are encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities. There is an activities fair during the first week of school to introduce visitors to a host of student clubs and organizations.

15. How can I purchase medical insurance for my child to cover them during their stay in the U.S.?

There are a number of insurance providers that specialize in arranging medical insurance coverage for international students. While the district cannot offer specific recommendations for medical insurance, it is able to provide a listing of corporate partners of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) through which medical insurance can be obtained.

16. Can my child graduate with a diploma from Niskayuna High School?

Yes, F-1 students have the option to graduate from Niskayuna High School. There are certain conditions that must be met as part of the graduation option. First, students must provide proof that they have completed 22 credits of equivalent coursework in their home school. Second, students must maintain a full academic schedule at Niskayuna HS with a B average in their courses. Finally, students must take and pass five required NYS Regents exams: World History, U.S. History, Integrated Algebra, Comprehensive English and Science.

17. Would my child be able to earn college credits while at Niskayuna High School?

Yes, there are 25 college credit courses available at Niskayuna in addition to 15 AP classes and 46 Honors level courses that we offer. College credit is offered through a number of institutions depending on the course content.

18. How many years can my child attend Niskayuna High School through this program?

U.S. State Department regulations state that visiting F-1 international students may attend the International Scholars Program for one year. Through the International Scholars Program’s F-1 concurrent study program with SUNY Schenectady, students may attend Niskayuna for up to three years. Please inquire directly with the International Scholars Program coordinator should your student be interested in participating in this unique opportunity of a long-term study.

19. Is there any financial assistance or scholarship available to F-1 program participants?

Yes. A scholarship in the amount of $2,000 is available to well-qualified students that demonstrate need and represent a country that is new to our program.

20. Can the F-1 housing fee be waived if a child resides with a family member or family friend in the community?

Yes, a waiver can be obtained. The waiver may be granted after consultation with the International Scholars Program coordinator who will contact the host family for approval.

21. How long after the end of the school year can my child stay in the United States?

Students may stay an additional two weeks in the U.S. after completing the International Scholars Program.

22. How does Niskayuna determine my child’s level of proficiency in English?

A test of English language proficiency is part of the application process. Students that apply must provide their scores on an acceptable test of English language proficiency such as the TOEFL or the SLEP. In addition, students are required to present several different items of English language writing as part of the application process. In addition, applicants will also be interviewed over Skype in English to ascertain their level of fluency in English.

23. Is there extra help for English language learners in this program?

Students that apply for the Niskayuna International Scholars Program are expected to come to the U.S. with sufficient proficiency in English to handle high school level coursework. Individual teachers will provide extra help as needed.

24. Whom should my child contact if he/she has a problem with school or the host family? Can the host family be changed at the student’s request?

The International Scholars Program coordinator is available for students at all times to help with any issues or problems. Students may also ask their academic counselor or the International homeroom teacher for help with a problem. All of these staff members will check on visiting students regularly to assess how well they are adjusting. In circumstances where there does not appear to be a good match between the student visitor and the host family, a new host family may be assigned.

25. What is the purpose of the F-1 administrative fee?

The administrative fee pays for the supervision and organization of the International Scholars Program. Aspects of the program such as the application, screening, and orientation processes, as well as the oversight of individual students and host families are covered by the administrative fee.

26. What is the total cost of the F-1 program?

Tuition is $15,000 USA. Housing is $6,000 USA. The administrative fee is $2,000 USA. Students must also pay for medical insurance and travel as well as incidental monthly expenses. The cost of those aspects of the program will vary according to each student’s individual circumstances.

27. Are students allowed to travel in the U.S. during school vacations?

Yes, if they are part of a school-sponsored trip or in the company of their own parents or host family.

28. Are students allowed to drive a car while in the U.S.?


29. What is the procedure for dealing with students that do not respect the rules of the program?

Students that violate the rules of the program will receive a warning, and their parents and host parents will be notified of the warning. If the warning has no effect, students may be sent home at their own expense. In such a situation, all tuition and fees are non-refundable.