National Student Exchange - Description

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About the National Student Exchange Program

National Student Exchange (NSE) is an exciting opportunity to attend one of more than 190 colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam for either a semester or an academic year. Access is also available to international study abroad programs around the world.

If you qualify, you will become one of more than 110,000 students who have participated in the NSE program since its inception. UH Hilo was one of the first members, having joined in the 1970's.

The main NSE website address is <>. There you will find a description of the entire program, searches specifically for your major, as well as a listing of member campuses.

Why go on exchange?

  • To learn more about yourself
  • To live in a different geographic environment
  • To experience another college setting
  • To explore a particular academic interest
  • To gain knowledge about a diverse culture
  • To recognize the value of your own culture
  • To form lasting friendships with students from other parts of the world

Who is eligible?

Students who:

  • Are enrolled full-time at UH Hilo at the time of application
  • Were full-time in the term prior to exchange
  • Are in good standing (academic, behavioral, financial)
  • Completed 24 UH Hilo credits the term prior to exchange
  • Have a minimum cumulative UH Hilo GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) at the completion of the term prior to exchange, and maintain while on exchange.

Note: Resident, non-resident, International students and those on Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) are eligible. Additional exchange criteria may apply.

Note: Freshman may apply during their second semester to exchange the following term.

What is the Cost?

Generally, students may select between two tuition/fee payment plans: Plan A or Plan B. Each participating school determines which plan (A, B or both) can be used.

On Plan A, tuition/fees are assessed at the in-state (resident) rate of the "host" campus.
On Plan B, tuition/fees are paid to your "home" school at the rate you normally pay.

Tuition/fee rates can be found in the free Directory of Exchange Opportunities available at the NSE campus office. On-campus housing and meals are paid for at the "host" school. Transportation costs to and from the exchange campus, and personal expenses must be paid for by the student.

Whether you participate under Plan A or Plan B, you will also be expected to pay those fees at the host school which are assessed as a condition of enrollment (i.e., general service fee, laboratory fee, art and photography supplies, and computer fees, for example). Field trips and special event fees may be charged for NSE group activities on your host campus. Some host campuses may also assess an institutional application fee, and/or an NSE activity/orientation fee. For example, "incoming" exchange students to the UH Hilo campus currently pay a $50 institutional (admission) application fee and a $65 NSE activity fee.

"Outgoing" UH Hilo students are assessed a $190 NSE application fee, $150 of which is forwarded to the central NSE office, while the remaining $40 is used for local NSE program administration.

How does Financial Aid work on exchange?

Students exchanging under Plan A, apply for financial aid from their "host" schools. The student must remember to enter the school's FAFSA code on the FAFSA application. FAFSA codes for all NSE campuses can be found in the free Directory of Exchange Opportunities available at the campus NSE office.

Students exchanging under Plan B apply through UH Hilo --- their "home" institution. UH Hilo students on Plan B exchanges who qualify for financial aid generally will have their funds deposited directly into their UH Hilo student account. In some instances, (for example, certain scholarship monies) a paper check is mailed to the "host" schools financial aid office for disbursement. Details about financial aid should be discussed with the UH Hilo Financial Aid office, including treatment of home campus "work study" eligibility.

UH Hilo NSE students, with FAFSA-established financial need who are Hawaii residents, may apply for the Edwin T. and Leilani Kam Scholarship through the UH Hilo NSE office.

When can you go on exchange?

Sophomores, juniors or seniors may go on exchange. Freshmen who apply must complete the 24 minimum credit hours before the desired exchange term. Additional requirements apply for seniors, including submission of a "Graduation In Absentia" request to their UH Hilo departmental "college."

You may participate in the program for up to one academic year. A student can exchange to one school for one semester and to a second institution for another term. Students on exchange for one term may "extend" their exchange to a second term with permission of both campuses.

How do grades and credits work?

Full credit is given for work satisfactorily completed on exchange. At UH Hilo, satisfactory is a "C" (NOT C-minus).

Prior to exchange, students must meet with your academic advisor for an evaluation of courses to be taken at the host school. This ensures that they have complete information concerning their academic work while on exchange, and its applicability to their degree program. Additionally, students must also meet with a UH Hilo Admissions Office counselor for a determination of equivalency between UH Hilo classes and the exchange school classes for all 100 and 200 level classes. Grades earned while on exchange may be reflected in the overall GPA, as transfer credits, but will not be reflected in your UH Hilo institutional GPA. The UH Hilo institutional GPA is used in granting a degree from UH Hilo.

Study abroad programs through NSE-sponsoring campuses may not evaluate foreign credits and, therefore, may not issue a transcript from their school. Students should discuss handling of "foreign transcripts" with the UH Hilo Admissions Office in advance of exchange.

What is my status while on exchange?

NSE students are NOT transfer students. They are still students at their home institutions while enrolled at the host school, and are subject to the rules and regulations of both institutions.

Who do I Contact?

Kadian Shaw, Coordinator
E-mail: or
Student Services Center, E-209

Telephone: (808) 932-7389, Fax: (808) 932-7388

*Note: This page is scheduled for update to include history of NSE on the University of Hawaii at Hilo campus.