GEO Program Policies

Please read the policies regarding off-campus study at Lake Forest College. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Global Engagement Office.



In addition to the requirements set by each specific program, Lake Forest College has its own eligibility requirements.

To be eligible to participate in a GEO program:

  • Have good academic, disciplinary, and financial standing with the College
    • A student who will be under probation during any portion of their off-campus program is not eligible to study off-campus. 
    • A student may have a financial hold when they complete their GEO application, but they have to resolve the hold before they are eligible to participate in their program. 
  • Maintain a minimum of a 2.7 GPA for semester programs or a 2.5 GPA for summer programs
  • Have at least 2nd-semester sophomore status (at the time the student participates in the program)
    • For transfer students, students have to be on campus at least one semester before their intended off-campus program.
  • Meet all College deadlines for applications and pre-departure requirements
  • Demonstrate the maturity, independence, and readiness to participate in a program, as shown by approvals from the academic advisor(s) and the Dean’s Office in Student Affairs
  • Must be a full-time student (not taking courses on a part-time basis) to participate in a semester program; part-time students can participate in a summer program.

Please note:

  • Students may not participate in a GEO program in their first semester back after a Leave of Absence, Judicial Suspension, or Medical Withdrawal without an appeal to the Director of GEO.
  • If the student is withdrawing from the College to participate in a non-approved off-campus program, they will have to have one semester back on Lake Forest College's campus before they are eligible to apply for a College-approved off-campus program.

Being deemed eligible by the College does not guarantee a student will be accepted by a host program or host university.

Appeal Process

The Academic Appeals Board is unable to consider cases of students denied by non-Lake Forest program hosts.

You must copy the Director of the Global Engagement Office on all emailed appeals. Your academic advisor must also send the AAB a written statement of support.

Approval by the Academic Appeals Board (AAB) is required if:

  • You have selected a summer program not LFC’s approved summer program list. This will also require GEO Approval. 
    • Approval for a semester program not on the approved list requires an appeal to the Curricular Policies Committee.
  • You intend to complete more than three total terms off-campus (2 semesters on GEO programs, plus 2 semesters in the Loop).

Location Eligibility

Programs are reviewed for safety reasons due to their locations and/or government warnings. LFC uses the Department of State’s Travel Advisories to help assess a location’s safety. Students cannot participate in a program that is in a location with a Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4. Contact the Global Engagement Office for more information on safety concerns.

Ineligibility to Participate in GEO Programs

Students may be declared ineligible in the GEO application process to participate in a study abroad program based on the recommendations of their academic advisor or the Dean of Students Office, as well as if the student fails to meet certain GEO deadlines, fails to attend the required Pre-Departure Orientation, or fails to submit required off-campus documents.

Students should note that all approvals to participate in a GEO program are conditional on the basis that a student must remain in good academic, judicial, and financial standing.  Should a student go on academic or disciplinary probation at any time before or during their off-campus program, or if the Dean of Students Office believes that the student should no longer participate, any approval will be rescinded. A student cannot participate in a GEO program if they have a financial hold on their LFC student account.

Students declared ineligible to participate in a GEO program will be removed from the roster.  Students will be responsible to their program host(s) for any withdrawal fees and may lose non-refundable deposits, airfare costs, or other cancellation costs.  The College will not refund or reimburse students for these or other costs.  If the College paid tuition or other charges to the program on the student's behalf, those charges will be placed on the student's Lake Forest College student account and will become the responsibility of the student to pay.

Participation in a program without approval from the Global Engagement Office or while ineligible to study off-campus will mean that any credits earned on the program will not transfer to Lake Forest College, and financial aid will not be applicable to the program.  

Program Participation

Program Limitations

Students are eligible to apply for two GEO-approved semester-long programs and they need to keep the following information in mind:

  • Summer abroad programs and The Lake Forest In the Loop Program are not included in this limitation.
  • Students may complete two non-consecutive semesters abroad on different programs, but one of them must be an Exchange Program.
  • Students can complete two consecutive semesters abroad ONLY if it is the same exchange program. Exceptions to this policy can only be made on a case-by-case basis.
  • A 2nd semester abroad is not guaranteedApproval for a 2nd semester abroad is dependent on the Global Engagement Office's resources, even if a student meets all eligibility requirements.

Non-Approved Programs

Students who wish to participate in a program that is not on our approved list must appeal to the Global Engagement Office. These appeals will only be reviewed if allowed by the overall College budget and the Global Engagement Office budget.

To file an appeal, the student must currently be in good judicial standing and meet the current eligibility requirements set by Lake Forest College.

The appeal must show that the outside program is fundamentally different than those offered in the current portfolio and must outline:

  • Strong academic justification for choosing an outside program
  • Academic rigor and quality of the program
  • Appropriateness of the student’s plan to their overall academic plan/major
  • Strength of student’s preparation at Lake Forest College
  • Level of cultural immersion or integration in the host country and, where applicable, linguistic immersion

Depending on the program, further approval from the College’s Curricular Policy Committee may be required. If added, the student would pay their normal Lake Forest tuition + a program fee, and financial aid would be transferable to the new program.  

If denied, the student would have to withdraw from the College to participate in the program.

*Semester at Sea is a non-approved program and students cannot file an appeal for this program.

Behavior on GEO Programs

Students are held to the Lake Forest Student Code of Conduct and any conduct codes of their host program while participating in their GEO program. Students who break the code of conduct on their program will face a conduct hearing, either while abroad or upon their return to Lake Forest.

Academic Workload

Students must remain full-time students while participating in a semester program, which is the equivalent of being enrolled in 3.0 to 4.5 Lake Forest credits.  Falling below 3.0 credits will mean that the student is not eligible to receive aid. For F-1 international students, this also means that you will fall out of status with your F-1 visa. 

Students should note that they may be taking more or fewer courses than they do on Lake Forest’s main campus.  This can mean as few as 2 “tutorials” at Oxford, or as many as 10+ short courses in Japan.

See the Registrar’s Office to determine the equivalent number of credits for your programs of interest.

Pre-Departure Orientation

All Lake Forest College students participating in a GEO program must participate in the mandatory pre-departure orientations. Failure to participate in orientations makes a student ineligible to participate in the GEO program.

Course Approvals

All students must get their courses approved before departing on a GEO program with the College's course approval form.  These must be turned, at the latest, into GEO before the last day of the term prior to the term abroad. If a student officially enrolls in courses after the College's course form is due and there are time conflicts/the student cannot register in their pre-approved courses, updated approvals can be done over email.

A student’s academic advisor must approve all courses so that they can ensure that a student will stay on track to graduate on time. Advisors may approve courses to count for graduation or general education credit. A department or program chair must sign off on all courses that are to count for a major or minor.

Requesting Accommodations

Students approved by GEO who are requesting accommodations must be registered with Accessibility Services on Lake Forest’s campus. Students may be able to receive accommodations abroad, but the options may be different and/or more limited than they are at Lake Forest College. Please see GEO and Accessibility Services before submitting an application to explore programs that may be the best fit.

Program Cancellation

Students should work with their specific program provider, if not Lake Forest faculty-led, to determine the cancellation policy to understand what happens if a program is cancelled before a program begins or during a program.  Students may want to work with an insurance provider to help with travel costs, and Lake Forest will assist students in obtaining credit, when possible.

Program Withdrawal

If a student withdraws from a program and the College has already paid non-refundable fees on behalf of the student, the student will be billed by the College for the non-refundable fees.

F-1 Students

F-1 international students can study "abroad" on an ISEP exchange program in their home country. Students are also responsible for ensuring that their U.S. F-1 visa remains in good status.

Credit and Transcripts

Students must complete all requirements from GEO, including pre-departure course approvals and returnee surveys, in order to have their off-campus grades appear on their Lake Forest College transcript.  

Remote Courses

Students may not take remote courses at Lake Forest College while they are participating in their off-campus program. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis.

Program Credit

Students will earn Lake Forest credit for Lake Forest College-approved semester programs. Since Lake Forest College has a unique credit system, it is extremely rare for a course abroad to have the exact credit equivalent as 1.0 Lake Forest credit; however, students can still take the equivalent of 3.0 to 4.5 Lake Forest credits. For most programs, students take 5 to 6 courses to receive the equivalent of 4.0 Lake Forest credits. Students can be awarded a maximum of 4.5 LFC credits for their semester abroad.

Course titles and grades will appear on the student’s Lake Forest College transcript and be considered Lake Forest credit.  However, the grades will not count toward the GPA except for Dean’s List and honors calculations.  Students may not opt to take these courses as Pass/NoPass through the College, but may elect to do so if allowed by their host program.  Not all host programs allow Pass/NoPass, and students should confirm with their departmental advisor at Lake Forest to determine whether their department will accept Pass/NoPass courses toward the major or minor.

Participants in any other programs, including summer programs, will earn transfer credit for courses completed with grades of C- or better. All programs must be approved by the College before transfer credit can be earned; certain programs may have been pre-approved for transfer credit and students can consult with the Global Engagement Office for details.  Course titles and grades earned for transfer credit will appear on the College transcript, but those grades will not be calculated in the GPA except for honors calculations.  Transfer credit is not eligible to count for Dean’s List.

Grading Policy

Different programs/host institutions may have different grading policies than those at Lake Forest College, and Lake Forest College is not able to change your abroad grade.

Students cannot choose to withdraw from a course after the grade has been received, nor ask the Registrar to not post one of the courses. 

The College cannot change student grades received on outside programs to Pass/NoPass.

Program Transcripts

Some programs send a student's transcript a few weeks after the program is complete, and some send the transcript months after the program. Please contact GEO with questions about a program's transcript timeline.

There are a few programs where the student has to complete a specific form or procedure before the program will send GEO the transcript. 

Costs and Financial Aid

Lake Forest College uses a ‘Home Tuition’ model for GEO programs, which means that students are charged their LFC tuition for all LFC-approved semester programs. 

A student receiving financial aid (scholarship, grant, loan) at Lake Forest may be able to use that aid for an approved semester program.  Please see the Financial Aid Office to determine your anticipated out-of-pocket costs. Please see our Off-Campus Study and Financial Aid page for further guidance, as well as the Study Abroad Financials page

CIC Tuition Benefit students: 

  • For your full tuition benefits to apply for a study abroad, you must participate in an ISEP Exchange program. The CIC TEP does not extend to study abroad and off-campus programs.

THERE IS NO LAKE FOREST FINANCIAL AID FOR ANY SUMMER PROGRAM. Students pay the program organization/host institution directly for summer programs. Some partner programs or national competitions may provide financial assistance for summer programs. Contact the Global Engagement Office for assistance.

Students may carry financial aid to a total of two LFC-approved semester programs (not including Lake Forest College in the Loop). If a student participates in two semesters, one of those semesters MUST be an Exchange.  

Students who earn credit from an approved GEO program and whose financial aid has been applied to that program may not drop—in whole or in part—any such credit without also fully reimbursing the College for all aid transferred to that program.

Students intending to participate in a semester program that is not an LFC-approved semester program will not be able to transfer their aid.  

If a student becomes ineligible to participate in an off-campus program, they will pay the College back for any fees that the College paid on their behalf.

Global Engagement Office


Stuart Commons
Middle Campus


Alexandra Olson
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