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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

AIFS Abroad in Costa Rica

Study Spanish language, environmental studies or Latin American literature during a semester with AIFS in San José, Costa Rica.  AIFS makes it simple for you to live and study in Costa Rica and experience all that the diverse climates and lively capital of this Central American country have to offer.

Located almost in the center of the country, San Jose has all the facilities of a big city while being within reach of both coasts as well as the volcanoes and national parks of the central highlands. Experience “Tico” culture firsthand and practice your language skills by living and sharing meals with your host family. Cultural activities organized by the University and the AIFS Resident Director may include tropical dance lessons, sports games, museum, market and theater visits plus a chance to participate in a conversation partner program with Costa Rican students.

AIFS excursions take advantage of the myriad ecological features of Costa Rica. See Arenal Volcano and bathe in the nearby Tabacon hot springs. Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica’s premier attraction for visitors. Encounter wildlife and exotic plants and flowers at Manuel Antonio National Park on the Pacific coast.

Program Type

Approved Third Party Provider


San Jose, Costa Rica

Languages of Instruction

English and Spanish

Program Dates

Fall 2018: Late September to Mid December

Spring 2019: Early January  to Early April

All dates are tentative and may change.  AIFS will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus)  Junior status or higher is strongly preferred.
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5.  


San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, sits in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north. The city is distinguished by its Spanish colonial buildings, like the ornate, neoclassical National Theatre of Costa Rica overlooking downtown’s Plaza de la Cultura, a popular gathering spot. Below the plaza, the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum displays hundreds of gleaming artifacts.


Students may choose from two 12-week options: Humanities or Environmental Sciences.  Students on either program take one Spanish course, plus three electives.  Electives may be taught in Spanish or English, and there is a wide variety of courses from which to choose including topics in art, business, communication, economics, pre-health, history, Latin American studies, politics, psychology, and environmental science.  Students wishing to take their electives in Spanish must place in the high intermediate course.

Most courses are available for a recommended 3 or 4 credits. Classes are taught from Monday to Friday. Students must take a minimum of 15 credit hours to obtain the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.  Though letter grades will appear on the Lake Forest transcript, they will not factor into a student’s GPA except in calculations of honors or the Dean’s List. 

For more information on courses, please visit the AIFS website.


Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Experiential Opportunities

You can give back to the local community by undertaking volunteer work with children and the elderly and on other social projects within San José. Placements are made after arrival in Costa Rica and in discussion with the AIFS Resident Director. 

Internships may be available, at an additional cost. Please talk to Ashley Sinclair about this option.

Housing and Meals

On this program, students live in a homestay with breakfast and dinner provided every day.

The homestay experience can be the most rewarding part of your time abroad. It is the best way to learn Spanish, gain a unique and personal insight into Costa Rican culture and integrate into the local community. Many students keep in touch with their families after they return to the U.S.

Homestay hosts do not always consist of a traditional family unit with mother, father, and children - you may be placed with an older woman whose children have left home for example or a retired couple. All families are carefully chosen and have to meet high standards in order to be a part of the homestay program. Many have worked with Veritas University and hosted international students for a number of years and are very experienced at providing students with what they need.

You will live with a local family located close to campus. All homestays are within walking distance of the University. You will have your own bedroom and there may be other international students also living in the homestay. Breakfast and dinner are provided daily by the family and lunch can be purchased inexpensively at the cafeterias on the University campus. All homes have Internet facilities and there is privacy for study. A once a week laundry service by your homestay is included.

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee.  The program fee for the AIFS Costa Rica program includes orientation, on-site director, housing, some meals, laundry service, several excursions, and insurance.  

Here is an estimated budget for your Fall 2018/Spring 2019 program:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)


Lake Forest College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


Lake Forest College Deposit (non-refundable)




Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, books, supplies, personal expenses, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will update these, and notify applicants if these estimates change. 

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate.

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.