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National Student Exchange

NSE Students Planning Your Exchange

The current NSE Directory is the first place to look. It presents the schools, their locations, descriptions and restrictions. Review it carefully, paying particular attention to pages 3-18 which describes the overall process of exchange and how to get the most out of the directory. All participating school catalogs are available on the NSE website. In addition, you can find a wealth of general information on the Internet and many NSE schools have their own websites. You will find the NSE website at The NSE website includes links to all member campuses.

Do not choose exchange schools based on assumptions you may have about a school or part of the country. Research on your part is critical. Begin your search early, discussing your plans with NSE staff, faculty, academic advisors and family. Utilize maps, the Internet, travel guides, college catalogs and Barron's books. Students who do the necessary research are best prepared for their exchange and subsequently have a more organized and satisfying experience.

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It is best for you to develop an interest in more than one school (we recommend 3-5). While we will try to place you at your first choice campus, we cannot guarantee it and you may be placed at one of your alternate choices.

Important: Pay careful attention to the information printed in the NSE Directory regarding cost of room and board, housing availability and housing contract obligations; whether the school runs on semester or quarter systems; and closed or restricted academic programs. Specific limitations are outlined in the campus description in the NSE Directory. Read the campus descriptions carefully to find out if the school: 1) accepts Tuition Plan B students; 2) has majors closed to exchange students; 3) has on-campus housing, or requires you to live on campus; 4) requires meal plan purchase; 5) has duration limitations; etc. You are responsible for knowing this information about each school you choose. Course enrollment in restricted programs is absolutely not guaranteed. You are responsible for getting the correct information to select the right school for you.

Choosing Exchange Durations:
You must follow any duration restrictions listed in the school descriptions in the NSE Directory. There are a few schools which require a full year exchange. When possible, NSE students are encouraged to exchange for a full academic year.

Semester Schools: You can exchange for one semester or a full year.

Quarter Schools: Credits received at a quarter school are converted to semester credits as follows: number of quarter credits x .67. It is advisable to select a full year exchange for a quarter system school.

Understanding Possible Limitations:
Some institutions have certain kinds of "unofficial" limitations that are not included in the NSE Directory. For example:

  1. Some schools have a limited number of students they can accept on exchange. Therefore, the number of UK students who will be accepted is limited.
  2. Some schools may only be listed as first choice schools and are not good alternate choices.
  3. Some schools have very limited availability on certain payment plans.

Information concerning these limitations is only available through the Office NSE Coordinator because it can change rapidly and without much notice. Therefore, you must consult with the NSE Coordinator regularly as you identify schools that interest you.


Students from every participating institution should not, in general, have to pay more for tuition and fees than they currently pay to attend their home institution. This is why all applicants can participate on Payment Plan B. Costs will not generally exceed UK's costs for attendance plus room, board, and travel expenses.

Sometimes it may cost more if:

  1. You exchange to an area with a considerably higher cost of living (Hawaii, Alaska, and most large cities).
  2. Your host school's room and board costs are higher than UK.

Important: Please read the following sections on tuition plans and financing carefully. You and your parents/family must fully understand the functioning and implications of your exchange based on Tuition Plan B as outlined below.
Within the school description in the current NSE Directory, is a black box which indicates what payment plan(s) a school will accept.

  1. "Plan" refers only to tuition and fees payment.
  2. Room, board, and other expenses are always paid directly to the host school.

The University of Kentucky only participates on Tuition Plan B. This means that you may not exchange to a host school that participates only on Plan A.
Plan B: Requires that you pay your usual tuition and fees directly to UK (note: out-of-state students continue to pay at those rates). Plan B students are enrolled at UK in "dummy" NSE credits which allow the UK bill to be processed. Those credits also allow your financial aid, except Federal Work Study (FWS), to be processed at UK. You will receive two bills - one from UK for tuition and fees, and one from your host school for room and board. You may also be billed for minimal fees like an orientation fee, health fee, or course fees.


Your first step is to outline the cost to attend each school you are interested in attending. Be sure to include normal tuition costs even though they are paid to UK.

Financial Aid is possible and is not too complicated if you understand the process. Follow the directions and start early.
Understand that you will begin the financial aid application process before being placed at your exchange school so you need to follow the instructions we supply. If you receive conflicting information, call the Central Advising Office to clear up the confusion.
It is the policy of the National Student Exchange Consortium that "The institution at which tuition/fees are paid shall be responsible for assessing need; and committing, awarding, and disbursing federally funded aid." You must understand how your financial aid is requested and processed for Payment Plan B.

Plan B

Remember that you are paying your usual tuition and fees to UK and Room/Board/miscellaneous fees to your host school. Your financial aid will be based on the cost of attending UK. Follow the regular procedure for filing financial aid. Make sure you meet all deadlines! This is particularly important for your exchange.

You should determine if your host school's housing and meal plan are higher than UK's (estimates available in the NSE Directory). Transportation will also increase the cost of your exchange. As soon as you are placed and have specific figures, you may submit to Financial Aid a statement listing any increases, including travel expenses. This could increase the amount of aid for which you are eligible.
**Watch carefully for your award letter from UK. If you have been granted Federal Work Study (FWS), understand that you must decline it. FWS is not transferable to other institutions. Ask about an increase in other forms of aid (e.g., loans, grants) when you decline your work study.
When your financial aid arrives at UK, it will apply first to UK tuition and fees. Then, if there is an excess, a residual check will be sent to your "residual refund" address.  You can apply the excess aid to the cost of your room, meal plan and living expenses.


Some exchange schools will not wait for you to receive a residual check from UK to pay for room and board fees. You must find out whether or not your host school will wait for financial aid to be processed.
While it is true that exchanges generally do not cost more, you must make sure to bring enough money with you to get you through at least the first month (books, rent, food, entertainment). Furthermore, you may need to pay in full or make a deposit for housing and/or meal plans in advance. BE PREPARED!


Remember, you absolutely must be a full time student while on exchange (12 credits or its equivalent). UK is notified by the host school if you are not a full time student. There may be serious financial aid, housing and academic consequences if you do not maintain full time student status.

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