Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Am I eligible to be a Rotary exchange student?
  2. Do I get to choose my country?
  3. Do I have to know another language?
  4. Will I get school credit for my exchange year?
  5. Is there any future advantage to being a Rotary Exchange Student?
  6. What if I have problems during my exchange?
  7. Do my parents have to host an inbound student?
  8. OK, bottom line, what does it cost?
  9. How do I apply?
  10. What if we just want to host an inbound student?
  11. What are the responsibilities of a host family?


Am I eligible to be a Rotary exchange student?

The Rotary Youth Exchange program is open to high school students who will be between the ages of 15 and 18 at the time of departure (the summer after applying) and will not have completed 4 years of high school at that time. It does not matter whether your parents are members of a Rotary Club - the program is open to children of Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike.

Exchange student candidates must be outgoing, self-confident, friendly, adaptable, adventurous, willing to learn a foreign language, and have above average grades in school. The application form will require you to tell about yourself and your family, and provide references from school teachers and administrators.

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Do I get to choose my country?

A very popular question. And the answer is ... yes and no. The countries we exchange with are those we know run top-quality programs and we re-evaluate them each year. There are a limited number of exchanges available with each country and we will not overload any country in either direction, inbound or outbound. Therefore, since you're going to spend a year overseas you will select five preferred countries. You also designate those countries that you (or your parents) would not accept an assignment to. The majority of students will get one of their top three choices. But remember, flexibility is a vital characteristic for a successful exchange student and that starts right at the beginning.

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Do I have to know another language?

No, not at all. Naturally, it would help to have some familiarity with the language of the country you go to, but we don't limit the program to those who are already bi-lingual. In fact, one of the great benefits of the program is quickly gaining fluency in another language. Typically, our students become fluent in 3-4 months, even without any previous knowledge of the language! But we strongly recommend that all participants start learning their target language as soon as they are selected for the program. The more of the language you know up front, the better your experience will be.

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Will I get school credit for my exchange year?

This is always a tough question because it varies from school to school and country to country. You should sit down with your school counselors when you apply and when you know what country you are going to for your year. Pre-planning makes a big difference. If you have question contact your Youth Exchange Officer or the District YE Chairman.

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Is there any future advantage to being a Rotary Exchange Student?

Absolutely! Past history has indicated that having the Rotary Exchange Year on your college application carries more weight in many cases than your GPA, class ranking, or even SAT or ACT scores. Colleges are looking for students that are going to successfully complete their studies and graduate. By completing a full year exchange in another culture you are showing them that you have the "right stuff". Future employers will take similar views of your year's experience, not to mention the benefits of becoming bi-lingual and bi-cultural!

Want to know more about this? We are pleased to refer you to an excellent book entitled "The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education". You can order it through online booksellers such as, or learn more at

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What if I have problems during my exchange?

The design of the Rotary Exchange program is such that if you have problems we have the resources to help you solve them starting with a Rotary Club right in the community in which you are living. You will have multiple avenues of help available to you to resolve any problem that might come up.

Rotary International and Rotarians in New York take very seriously our responsibility for the safety and security of all Rotary exchange students, both inbound and outbound. In November, 2002, the Board of Directors of Rotary International adopted the following Statement of Conduct for Working with Youth:

Rotary International is committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all participants in Rotary activities. It is the duty of all Rotarians, Rotarians’ spouses, partners, and other volunteers to safeguard to the best of their ability the welfare of and to prevent the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of children and young people with whom they come into contact."
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Do my parents have to host an inbound student?

Parents of outbound students are not required to host. Many, of course, choose to do so, partly because they have an empty room, but also so they can experience some of what their son or daughter is going through. We encourage that, but we also recognize that not all families are able to host. We do ask outbound students and their families to help find host families in their own communities, to accommodate the inbound student that will be hosted by their Rotary Club. The program depends on having local host families; without them there is no program.

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OK, bottom line, what does it cost?

Probably a lot less than you think. You see, Rotarians are all volunteers, so there are no salaries or commissions paid to the people who administer this program. It does cost money, though, to make the arrangements, present the orientations, provide student materials and supplies, etc. And, of course, there's airfare, insurance, and other travel expenses. Here is a breakdown:

You must submit a $55 non-refundable fee with your application for district interviews (after your local interview) in order to be considered for the program. If you are accepted into the program the cost for the program is $465. That fee goes toward administrative costs for our program, orientations and various supplies. You will be responsible for your round trip airfare, Rotary-approved medical insurance (about $300-$600), visa costs, your Rotary blazer, pins, etc. You will also be responsible for the cost of obtaining a passport, any fees for mandatory language camps in the destination country, additional spending money while you're on exchange, and any optional tours offered through Rotary during or at the end of your year.

Rotary exchange students spending a year abroad are provided with a monthly allowance from their host Rotary club. This is usually the equivalent of between $50 and $100 US, but may vary by location. If you want or need spending money beyond that, it is up to you and your parents to provide it. Of course, you do not have to pay for room and board, school fees, etc.

Almost all students are also required to deposit an Emergency Fund with their host Rotary Club. Usually $300 to $500, this money is there for unexpected expenses (medical, dental, telephone, etc.), and, if it is used during the year, it must be replenished by you or your parents. It is returned to you at the end of your exchange.

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How do I apply?

All applicants must be sponsored by a local Rotary Club and district, so it's important that you make contact with someone in your area. If, however, you don't know a local Rotarian, or if you'd like help in this task, you can certainly contact us for assistance. We will follow up with you, and refer your inquiry to someone in your area to get you on the right track.

Throughout the district there will be Rotary Youth Exchange informational meetings in the fall. These meetings are for interested students and their parents, and will provide detailed information for you about the program, the application and interview process, and more. The schedule of meetings, when available, will be included on our calendar page. Any student who might be interested in applying should register to attend one of those meetings.

Once you've made the decision to apply you must contact your local Rotary Club. They will interview you to check your eligibility for the program and forward your information to the District Youth Exchange Committee if they believe you have the qualities to be a Rotary exchange student.

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What if we just want to host an inbound student?

Rotary Clubs are always looking for potential host families. If you'd like to enrich your family's experience by bringing in a Rotary exchange student, contact your local Rotary Club, or complete our inquiry form. And thanks so much for your interest!

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What are the responsibilities of a host family?

To accept the exchange student as a new member of your family. The student will be governed not only by the rules of the program but by the rules of your household. You are responsible for the safety of the exchange student the same as for your own children. Although you might become a bit more of the soccer mom or dad for normal everyday activities, it is not your responsibility to act as a taxi service or a tour guide. Rotarians for the hosting club will be helping in these areas.

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Rotary Youth Exchange District 7170, Inc. is a not-for-profit New York corporation, and a federally tax-exempt public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


We hope this information is useful to you as you consider this opportunity. If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of the outbound committee members.