UMN - Be a National Exchange Student!

27 Feb 2020

The National Student Exchange (NSE) is a nationwide university exchange program that is available at most universities and colleges within the fifty states, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, and Canada. There are many questions that students should take into consideration when making the decision to be part of this program: how much are tuition and boarding costs, do I need to learn another language, will I still be able to graduate on time, and will I be comfortable moving away from the area where I currently live - perhaps away from family or parents?

NSE is a program that helps students to answer these questions and more. This exchange program can help you get in-state tuition, provide assistance that you may normally get from your parents, speak to you in your native language, and help you stay on track for graduation! The best part is you get to pick any institution of your choice, for one month, one semester, or even one full year.

On a quick sidenote, you should discuss with your parents about NSE to find out in advance if they will have any issues. When you are leaving for a semester/year, are they able to do what you would normally do: shovel out the long driveway in the winter, mow the grass in the spring/summer, clean the house, take care of your animal, translate for them if your family speaks limited English or who will take care of them or relatives if an emergency arises?


How can you become an NSE student and get ready for this great adventure? Here are some steps to help prepare yourself when you go to another institution to study for a semester/year:

  1. Narrow down a specific institution Are you a student who is looking for another research school? Are you trying to get away from the cold or the rain? Deciding and following through on your own specific criteria will not only assist you in making the right decision, but will help you to stay motivated and happy during the time you spend at the institution you have chosen. Some other criteria to consider are the campus and class sizes, location type, internship opportunities, clubs and activities, the safety of the campus, qualities of instructors, and especially do they offer classes for your particular program. To narrow down your specific school, search questions on Google about your planned school or use (NSE’s Find Campus link) if you are stuck.

  2. Schedule a meeting with an NSE advisor in 240 Appleby Hall Discuss your plans and show NSE advisor the school options that you feel will help you grow and succeed. Ask any questions that you may have because they are experts who have attended and studied at other institutions through NSE. Ask about the application process and deadline and paperwork that is needed to plan and organize accordingly. You can also email David Holliday at

  3. Recruit friends If you’d like to go but are nervous to go alone, you can always ask your friends to go to the same institution because some are likely to go as well since they may be in the same situation as you. You and your friends could study, support one another and have fun together while creating lasting memories with every moment!

  4. Tuition and fee payment options You may wish to pay tuition and fees through either plan A or plan B. Students who choose plan A must pay the in-state tuition to the host institution , whereas students who choose plan B must pay the in-state tuition to the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. If you are broke like any other college student, certainly, you should always aim to pay the lowest price. To compare which one fits best for you, you must take some time to research and compare rates between both institutions to determine which one is less expensive.

    NOTICE: Most schools announce the yearly tuition and fees on their website, as well as room and board; do not get overwhelmed if you are planning to study for one semester. Keep in mind that this is a full year boarding rate and you should divide this portion in half.

  5. Research room and board You can choose either to live in campus dorms or rent an apartment. Dorms often times are more expensive since some require meal plans and fees, but in a dorm, you are more likely to get involved on campus, come out of your comfort zone, and try something new for the first time. Living with more than one roommate can make the room price cheaper, and you can grow through the new experience of living with someone else other than just your family members. On the other hand, living in an apartment may be a little bit cheaper but you will have to cook and travel further to campus.

  6. Estimate the price tag Tuition and room and board can be costly. In addition, you must consider how you will travel to the host institution. Will you drive or fly? If you are planning to drive, are you planning to take a car with you? You will then have to consider parking fees. If flying, are you planning to buy the tickets early to get a lower price, especially with a round trip flight. Think of other items that you will want and need while you are at the host institution, such as books, food, going out, and other personal expenses. Don’t let the cost deter you though, financial aid/FAFSA and scholarships will come to help.

  7. File your FAFSA and NSE application Before making any changes to your FAFSA, contact Cathy Schuster in the Office of Student Finance ( to explore the options with filing the FAFSA to either the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities or your specific institution. Furthermore, Contact David Holliday, the NSE Coordinator ( with any final questions. If everything works out correctly, submit an application form for NSE at ([])(, along with your UMNTC’s unofficial transcript.

    NOTICE: If you’re in the College of Science and Engineering, you should check out the course equivalencies at Otherwise, check to see if your exchange institution’s classes can transfer back to UMNTC by using Transferology is a great online tool which tracks the course equivalence between the UMNTC and the host institution, so you don’t have to waste the time to study for a class that will not transfer back to UMNTC.

  8. Choose your classes If you’re in the College of Science and Engineering, you should check out the (course equivalencies). Otherwise, check to see if your exchange institution’s classes can transfer back to UMNTC by using ( Transferology is a great online tool which tracks the course equivalence between the UMNTC and the host institution, so you don’t have to waste the time to study for a class that will not transfer back to UMNTC.

    Once you research which of your classes will get transferred back to UMNTC, pick a few classes that you really want to take there. Transferred classes at other institutions do not

    affect UMNTC’s GPA, but you must know that the courses from other institutions do go to your transcript. If possible, ask any upperclassman who has taken some of your planned courses and see if they are difficult, if they are, it is recommended that you should take that hard class at the host institution since some classes tend to be easier than some of our classes here at UMNTC. Additionally, if you have not completed all of your liberal arts classes, you should take them into consideration as well.

    Furthermore, NSE students are the very last group to sign up for classes online at nearly all institutions. That being said, if some classes are completely filled, you may go to the very first class and ask for a permission number. In some cases, classes do require the prerequisite classes; frequently, the exchanged institution’s automated-class registration does not have a list of your classes taken at UMNTC. You must email professors as soon as possible and tell them about your situation to stay on track toward graduation.

  9. Have fun while studying Even though you are paying for your exchanged institution, remember to try to have fun as well as discovering something that you are passionate about - get out of your comfort zone and chillax! Go out to the beach if your institution is near the warm ocean, go on hiking trips, do some outdoor activities, and most importantly make new friends! Plan for activities that you want to accomplish, and keep track to ensure that you accomplish each specific one.

Although you are staying several months at the exchange institution, the time will go by very fast, so take advantage of whatever supports you can get, work toward your goals and make your dreams come true! Enjoy your time there while studying and discovering your truest passion through the fun activities, and for possibly a cheaper price!