You've got Q's

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Whether it’s a question about airfare for your school group, curiosities about instructor certifications and training, or concerns about traveling alone for the first time, EPI is here to help. 

General

How do I know if EPI is right for me?


EPI programs place a strong emphasis on science, adventure, and the great outdoors. These are academic programs. If you like to learn, if you're curious and open-minded, if you're willing to try something new, then these programs will be a good fit. Look through the Why EPI pages and the Travel Programs pages for more detailed information. If you're having a hard time deciding, or want to hear more about a specific course, don't hesitate to get in touch. We're happy to help.




What does a typical day look like?


There's a lot of variety to the days on an EPI program. That being said, most days will include some amount of data collection or conservation service. There will definitely be some 'classroom time', but our classrooms are usually outside, and there will also be some time for hiking or snorkeling or exploring. The days are full, but fun!




Can I get credit for my program?


Yes! Regardless of whether you're a high school or college student, a Professional Development participant, or a teacher chaperoning one of our courses, there is undergraduate and graduate credit available through our partnerships with Hamline University and the University of Montana.




How old are most students?


EPI runs Travel Programs for middle school, high school, and college-aged students and Professional Development programs for all teachers and non-traditional educators.




EPI is a non-profit, is my tuition tax-deductible?


No. Because you'll receive a service (a travel program) your tuition is not tax-deductable. If you decide to support a local student, however, you'll receive a letter of proof for your donation.




Does EPI offer financial aid?


Yes! EPI offers need-based student financial aid. Awards typically range from $300-600, so it won't cover the full cost of the program, but it can help offset it. The student financial aid application can be found here and the teacher/professional development financial aid application can be found here. If you're a school chaperone or travel organizer, you should also know about our School Grant Program which can provide up to $8000 toward group travel during our low seasons. Need additional fundraising ideas? Check out our handy EPI Scholarship & Fundraising Guide for students or our Fundraising Resources for Educators guide.





 

Risk Management

Is international travel safe?


Safety is EPI's top priority, and while there is no way to eliminate all risks, EPI actively manages them through its comprehensive risk management processes. Every element of our programs, from program design to instructor training is subject to rigorous risk management protocols. To learn more, go to our Health & Safety pages.




What are the intructors' qualifications?


EPI instructors are required to have a bachelor's degree and a minimum of a Wilderness First Aid certification. They have backgrounds in science and science education, with experience leading groups in outdoor settings. At our international locales, all instructors must be bilingual, and every EPI instructor goes through our intensive on-site risk management training.




What immunizations are required?


Immunizations are not required for travel to any of EPI's program sites. We recommend that travelers meet with their personal physicians to discuss non-required vaccinations.




What happens if I get sick?


With their training in CPR and Wilderness First Aid, EPI instructors are equipped to handle minor ailments like headaches, blisters, sunburns, etc. If an issue is more severe, instructors will contact families and take participants to pre-approved medical clinics. At all times, EPI instructors carry with them phones and medical action plans, including contact information for emergency medical services.




What if I have dietary restrictions or medical needs?


EPI can accommodate a wide variety of dietary restrictions, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten intolerant, and other allergies. EPI assesses the medical needs of each individual participant--and our ability to deliver on those needs—as part of the required paperwork and medical review process. If you'd like to discuss a particular issue or concern prior to enrollment, please contact us.




How will I know if my child arrived safely?


As soon as your child meets up with the EPI instructor team, we'll place a safe arrival phone call so that you'll know they're in good hands. Sometimes this call will come directly from EPI instructors. Other times, it will come through a "safe arrival contact" appointed by the group.




How often will I be able to correspond with my family back home?


EPI's courses are relatively short in duration, which provides a powerful opportunity to disconnect from our devices. On course, EPI expects participants to abide by its Unplugged Policy—no cell phone or email communications throughout the duration of the program. By unplugging from their devices, our students tap into a deeper, more immersive learning experience. EPI maintains a 24-hour Emergency Contact Phone so that, in the case of emergencies, participants can contact their families and vice versa. Other than the initial safe arrival phone call, our policy is that no news is good news. To reach the 24-hour contact phone, simply dial our direct line and listen for directions: 1-800 721 8784.





 

Administrative

What does my tuition cover?


EPI's Program Fees cover all on-the-ground expenses, including food, lodging, transportation, and all activities and park entrance fees. Tuition does not cover additional spending money, baggage fees, or food in the airports on travel days. In some cases, tuition will also cover the cost of flights, but this is not always the case. Please see the Airfare section below for more information, or contact us for airfare details.




Is there a payment plan?


Payment for most EPI programs occurs on the following timeline:

  • A $250 deposit upon enrollment
  • A $750 tuition deposit 6 months prior to departure
  • Final tuition balance due 2 months prior to departure.
So long as those deposit deadlines are met, participants are free to submit payments on any installment that they wish.




What immunizations are required?


Immunizations are not required for travel to any of EPI's program sites. We recommend that travelers meet with their personal physicians to discuss non-required vaccinations.




What is your cancellation policy?


You can find EPI's Terms & Conditions, including the cancellation policy, here.




Do participants need travel insurance?


Although not required for participation*, EPI highly recommends securing travel insurance for its programs. There are many sites online that provide helpful information about travel insurance and even compare options. *Some countries, including Costa Rica, require certain travel insurance to enter due to COVID-19. Visit EPI's COVID-19 Policies Page to find country-specific requirements.




What travel documentation is required?


For international programs, participants must have a current passport that is valid for 6 months after return from the program site. Additionally, any students under the age of 18 must carry with them the original, signed & notarized copy of the International Travel Minor Travel Letter, which is provided in EPI's course paperwork. Our operating locales do not require visas for US citizens. EPI advises participants who are not US citizens to check the visa and travel requirements for the country of destination. EPI is not responsible for securing visas required for travel.





For Chaperones

Do chaperones travel free?


On our group travel programs, one chaperone travels for free with every six participants. The exception is the Galapagos, where the first chaperones need a minimum of nine participants to travel free.




Is there a minimum number of students? What about for a private course?


Similarly, all of our group travel programs require a minimum of six paying participants, except for the Galapagos, which requires nine. To ensure a private course, groups need a minimum of 12 paying participants. Otherwise, EPI may look to combine you with other small groups.




How does payment collection work?


For group travel, we can set up payment in a way that works best for you and your group. EPI is happy to collect payments directly from participants and families, or we can work with you or your travel administrators to collect payment from the school.




Who collects all the paperwork?


EPI works directly with families to make sure that they complete and submit all paperwork required for travel.





Airfare

Is airfare included in tuition?


For individual student travelers and professional development participants, airfare is generally not included in the cost of tuition. For participants traveling in a group, airfare generally is included in the cost of tuition for our international program sites. For domestic sites, airfare is generally not included. If you are unsure if your tuition includes airfare, please get in touch with your trip organizer or contact us directly.




How does airfare work?


If you are traveling with a group and airfare is included in your tuition, EPI will send you the travel itinerary as soon as it is confirmed with the airlines. For individual travelers, EPI provides arrival and departure time frames for each particular course. These time frames have been set up to work logistically for the instructor teams and to minimize any wait time for travelers. Participants are responsible for securing airfare that arrives and departs within those time frames. As always, if you have additional questions about airfare, traveling solo as a student, or difficulties finding flights within the time frames, get in touch! We're happy to help.




Are baggage fees included?


Baggage fees are not included in tuition costs.




How much spending cash should I bring?


Bringing some spending cash is a good idea. $50 to $100 will suffice. American dollars will work at our international sites, so long as the bills are clean. Ones and fives work best.




Is there a packing list?


Field-based, outdoor education requires proper clothing and gear. As part of its enrollment paperwork, EPI provides Student Handbooks and specific packing lists for each program site.





More Questions?