Frequently asked questions

What are the requirements to host a foreign exchange student?

Host families provide the exchange student with room and board, and are expected to treat their student as a member of a family, not as a guest. Exchange students cover their own travel costs, health insurance, school expenses, cell phone, and spending money. EF and the US Department of State also designate certain requirements of all host families. For example, host parents should be at least 25 years of age or older, pass a background check and have a stable and suitable household. Let us know if you are interested and we will help you determine if your family meets our program requirements!

Does EF place students with single people, same-sex couples, retirees, empty nesters or families without school aged children?

Yes! There is no 'typical' host family. Our families represent the diversity of American culture, and we encourage families of all shapes and sizes to host.  Some families have young or teenage children, while others may be empty-nesters or newlyweds. We've had single people, same-sex couples and grandparents all be wonderful hosts.

Do you get paid to host a foreign exchange student?

Host families are not paid. According to the US Department of State, host families cannot receive financial gain from their participation in a student exchange program. This rule is designed to ensure that host families are participating in the program for the right reasons. However, in recognition of their role as citizen ambassadors, host families may be eligible to receive a charitable tax deduction on their tax return.


You may wonder, how much does it cost to host an exchange student? Having an extra teenager in your home will likely increase your household expenses, such as gas, water and grocery bills. Families are responsible for providing food for three meals a day plus snacks, as well as ensuring transportation to and from school. However, students pay for their own personal expenses such as school activity fees, toiletries, clothes, insurance and social activities.

Where do foreign exchange students come from?

EF exchange students come from 13 countries across Europe and Asia. They hail from a diverse set of communities and backgrounds which help to offer an interesting breadth of students to choose from.

Can I select the student I want to bring into my home?

Yes, our student exchange coordinators and full-time staff will work with you to find a great student match. We have spent more than 40 years matching students to their American host families and high schools. If you have an idea of what type of exchange student would fit best in your family, let's talk about it!

How long will the student be with my family?

EF exchange students come to the USA for either one semester or one school year.

What if it doesn't work out?

We are committed to making sure that our exchange students and host families have a great experience. If problems ever arise, you can rely on your local exchange coordinator, regional coordinator, and full-time EF staff to be there for you. In the rare case that we can't all resolve the issue together, we will find the student a new home.

Find the right exchange student for your family

Does your family have any hobbies or interests that you'd like to share with an exchange student? Are you looking to learn more about a particular region of the world? Consider some of these topics and start browsing student profiles today.

No students found.

Browse student profiles

© EF Education First 2011-2021. EF High School Exchange Year is operated by EF Educational Foundation for Foreign Study, a non-profit corporation designated by the U.S. Department of State to operate a J-1 student exchange program. Note: Featured photo/videos do not include prospective students, and are representative of program participants.