All types of families are encouraged to apply to host and there is no “typical” American Councils host family. Families come in all shapes and sizes, including those with and without children at home, young couples, “empty nesters,” single adults, and single parents.
American Councils students are provided with a pre‐departure orientation (PDO), travel to/from the U.S. and their host community, post‐arrival orientation, mid‐year orientation, and re‐entry workshop. Each student also receives a monthly stipend ($125), health insurance, funding for school‐related expenses ($300), and is supported by an American Councils Local Coordinator in or near the host family’s community. Funding is provided to the local coordinator for organizing enrichment activities.
A professionally trained Local Coordinator (LC) will be assigned to work with your family and student for the entire program. Your LC will provide you with an orientation and maintain regular monthly contact with you and your student, often in‐person, offering advice and support whenever needed. The LC will maintain regular contact with your local high school and complete reports, evaluating your student's progress in family life, academic achievement, and social activity. Your LC and your family are, in turn, supported by a team of dedicated American Councils staff in Washington, DC, available 24-hours in case of emergency.
The student selection process is merit‐based and not needs‐based. Most students come from what are considered middle class families in their home country. Some students may come from more modest families or wealthier families. Some students may bring a credit card or their own laptop, though most students will probably bring only some extra cash from home.
To become an American Councils host family, you will need to complete a Host Family Application, including references, photos of your home, and a background screening for anyone 18 or older in the home. An American Councils representative will need to perform an in‐home interview and secure enrollment for your student at a local high school.
In these situations, American Councils works with families to make arrangements for the student to stay temporarily with a neighbor, family friend or school friend, or with the Local Coordinator.
If a student and host family have a misunderstanding, the American Councils Local Coordinator provides counsel and support. If a host family has an insurmountable difficulty or an unexpected change in family life, the Local Coordinator will work with American Councils’ national office to arrange for another placement for a student.
Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX)
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine
Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES)
Albania, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Egypt, Gaza, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Israel (Arab Communities), Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, and West Bank
With the support and guidance of their local coordinator, all American Councils students are required to do the following:
- Submit a monthly online report to American Councils;
- Maintain a B average at school with no grade below a C;
- Join a leadership or service club at school;
- Perform at least 30 hours of volunteer community service;
- Make at least three cultural presentations during International Education Week in November
- Abide by all host family rules (curfew, chores, house rules, etc.)
- Attend required orientations, workshops, and organized enhancement activities
Any special dietary needs or restrictions a student may have are individual, and reasons for this may be health‐related, cultural, personal, or religious in nature. Most Muslim students will not eat pork.
Muslim students who may be accustomed to eating only halal meat (similar to “kosher”) may choose to be vegetarian while in the U.S., or come prepared to purchase their own halal meat (if easily available in the host community), or may choose to eat certain other non‐halal meats. Host families are not expected to provide halal meat to the students.
As a host family, you need to be able to provide your student with:
- the opportunity to participate in your family’s daily life and events
- a safe, nurturing and primarily English‐speaking home environment
- a bed (not convertible or inflatable, but sharing a room with sibling of same gender is fine)
- a desk/table where the student can study
- three meals a day with either provisions for lunch or lunch money for school
- assistance with arranging transportation to/from school and extra‐curricular events
American Councils prepares and encourages all students to view religious institutions in the U.S. as an opportunity for cultural exchange, better understanding their host family, socializing, and as a source for volunteer opportunities. Many students do attend religious services and/or youth groups with their host families; however, it is against program policy for students to be proselytized to, convert, or be “forced” to attend religious services while they are on program.
Yes. Most American Councils families host for the entire school year, but if your circumstances do not allow for this, it is possible to host a student for a single semester or as a welcome family (approx. 3 months) at the beginning of the school year.
Students arrive in August for the academic year and return home in May or June. Students from Malaysia arrive in January for the spring semester.
To apply, start the application process here. As a host parent or family, you agree to provide meals and snacks, a bed for the student to sleep in, and a supportive environment. If you have any questions or concerns during the application process, do not hesitate to email us or call!
Students participate in an open competition and are awarded merit‐based scholarships based on English language ability, academic performance, interview, writing samples, teacher recommendation, and demonstrating qualities that indicate they will be successful on a cultural exchange. Approximately 1 in 50 applicants is selected to participate.
All American Councils students are participants on merit‐based scholarship programs funded by the U.S. Government. While in the U.S., American Councils students are actively involved in school life and activities, perform volunteer community service, make cultural presentations, and participate in enrichment activities organized by their local coordinator. Upon their return home, students become members of the alumni network in their home country, where they apply the skills and experiences gained in the U.S.
Students may choose to take on informal jobs such as babysitting or cutting grass, but nothing that requires a social security number or that is considered full or part‐time. Students are not permitted to drive while in the U.S.
No. U.S. State Department regulations do not allow for the compensation of families for hosting an exchange student on a J-1 visa. Host families are eligible for a $50 tax deduction for each month that they host a student in their home. Each program provides students a monthly stipend and funding for school‐related items are intended to help offset expenses.