Coronavirus Response

Coronavirus, Our Expanded Refund Policy for Fall 2020 and FAQs

Updated on May 14, 2020

As the coronavirus escalated in early March, Carpe Diem staff, students, and families faced many difficult and frequently changing realities. The safety and well-being of our students and Overseas Educators is always our number one priority, and determining what would best serve our students in the field was a challenge that required sifting through a deluge of information and constant adaptation. As the global socio-political landscape and fears and concerns around the coronavirus pandemic continued to escalate, Carpe Diem made the difficult decision to end programming early and bring our groups and Latitudes students home.

As we move forward, navigating this new terrain together, there are still many questions left to answer, questions regarding Carpe Diem, how we can best support our students and staff, our collective community and the world. These questions will require time and patience for all of us. 

We understand that you may be wondering how the coronavirus might impact your gap year plans. There is new information being released every day and it is impossible to predict how this outbreak might impact our Fall 2020 programs. We are optimistic about our ability to offer Fall 2020 programs and we want to provide you with ample information to support you in making the best decision for your gap year.

If you have any concerns about your Fall 2020 semester or plans, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer semester programs in many different regions around the world and are always able to transfer your enrollment to another region (pending availability). Note that you will be responsible for the difference in tuition and airfare costs.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have expanded our refund policy to give you the most security in planning your gap year:

  1. If you apply for a Fall 2020 program, submit a deposit and decide on or before August 15th that you are not comfortable traveling for any reason, we will refund 100% of your deposit. There is no risk to you if you enroll in a program now and cancel by August 15th. 
  2. If you apply for a Fall 2020 program, submit a deposit and decide on or before August 15th that you would like to transfer your enrollment to a Spring 2021 program or a future semester, we will transfer your application and you will not need to reapply. 
  3. If you are planning to travel on a Fall 2020 semester and Carpe Diem makes the decision to cancel the program for any reason, we will offer you a couple of different options:
    • We will offer you a space on any other Carpe Diem program that has availability
    • OR we will refund 100% of your deposit and tuition payment so that you can make other plans for your semester.

While we are cautiously optimistic about our ability to offer Fall 2020 programs, we are also aware that many things need to change before we are able to responsibly resume international travel. We are committed to supporting our Fall 2020 students and their families and have developed a three-tiered approach to our fall programming options. 

Plan A:

We will run our 8-week international and domestic programs as planned. 

We anticipate that not all countries will have opened their borders for international travel by early October so there is the possibility that we will need to reduce the number of programs we are offering. If you are enrolled in a program that is canceled, we will work with you to choose one of the 3 options:

  1. transfer enrollment to another program of your choice (pending availability)
  2. transfer enrollment to the Spring 2021 semester
  3. cancel your enrollment and issue a full refund (minus the application fee).

Carpe Diem staff will be in touch with all enrolled students on August 5th to share more information about our decision-making process, the likelihood of programs running, other regions with space available and to support you in preparing for the fall semester. If you have any questions before then, please reach out to us directly anytime. 

Our Fall 2020 students have until August 15th to cancel their enrollment for any reason, transfer their enrollment to a different region or move to a Spring 2021 semester. Carpe Diem HQ will make a final decision about which of our Fall 2020 programs will be running on or before August 19th. We will communicate with all enrolled families regarding our decisions for Fall 2020 as they are made. 

Plan B:

In the event that we determine we are not able to offer our international programming during the Fall 2020 semester, we anticipate that we will be able to run our Semester in the Borderlands which is based in Arizona. We have the capacity for two groups of up to 10 students each for this program. 

We will work with all students who are enrolled in our international semester programs to offer them a space on the Borderlands program (pending availability), transfer their enrollment to the Spring 2021 semester, OR provide full refunds (minus the application fee). 

Latitudes students who are not able to travel in the fall will have the opportunity to participate in a Spring 2021 group semester, followed by a Focused Volunteer Placement in late spring/summer.

Plan C:

In the event that domestic and international travel is not possible during the fall semester, Carpe Diem will provide all students with the opportunity to transfer their enrollment to a Spring 2021 program or cancel their enrollment and receive a full refund (minus the application fee). 

Similarly to Plan B, Latitudes students who are not able to travel in the fall will have the opportunity to participate in a Spring 2021 group semester, followed by a Focused Volunteer Placement in late spring/summer.

We understand that each family will have different needs in regards to timelines and decisions. Carpe Diem is committed to working with each student on a case-by-case basis in order to ensure the best possible outcomes for our families. Thank you for your continued support as we navigate these uncertain times together!

Frequently Asked Questions

How has Carpe Diem been monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic?

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As you are aware, there is currently a worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 (the coronavirus). While this particular virus originated in China, there are now confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the world. There continues to be a tremendous amount of information being released, including best practices for prevention (washing hands, social distancing, good respiratory hygiene, etc.) and ongoing research into treatment and the development of a vaccine.  We are actively monitoring reports from the CDC, the WHO, the US Department of State, the  Overseas Advisory Council and our program partners on the ground in the regions where we work. We are also encouraging all students and parents to do their own research and source information from reliable sources such as the CDC and theWHO.

This link provides real-time updates regarding the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world. Additionally, the US Department of State has issued a Global Health Advisory and has recommended that all U.S citizens avoid international travel due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

We acknowledge this advisory and agree that it is not safe or socially responsible to travel right now. We also acknowledge that this situation is ever-changing and that there is a strong possibility that the pandemic will begin to diminish in the coming months. The virus is dynamic and as the medical community learns more about how to slow the spread and treat the virus, we will all learn more about how to best respond. 

No one knows when the outbreak will begin to slow but we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to offer programming this fall. Over the next few months, the Carpe Diem HQ team will continue keeping a close eye on the sources mentioned above and will continue to proactively communicate with all of our Fall 2020 students and parents.

How did Carpe Diem respond to the Coronarvius during the Spring 2020 semester?

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This spring we had over 50+ semester students and 28 Latitudes students in the field. The safety and well-being of our students and Overseas Educators is always our number one priority, and determining what would best serve our students in the field was a challenge that required sifting through a deluge of information and constant adaptation. As the global socio-political landscape, fears, and concerns around the coronavirus pandemic continued to escalate, Carpe Diem made the difficult decision to end programming early and bring our groups and Latitudes students home.

This was a difficult but necessary decision and we are bolstered by the coming together of our wider community to make our student evacuations happen quickly and safely. We are immensely grateful to our students this spring, to their parents and families, to our Overseas Educators, our in-country partners and contacts, our HQ Team, our travel specialist, Karen Chieppa, and her flight consolidators, and our wider community in Portland for coming together to make this undertaking go so smoothly. This was truly a team effort, and we are grateful for the expertise that was shown individually and collectively.

What is Carpe Diem doing to support students who had their semesters end early due to the pandemic?

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The early return of our students and staff brings a collective sigh of relief but it is also bittersweet. We were hearing reports of inspired and engaged students experiencing a tremendous amount of growth and learning in the field this spring. We know that the seeds of learning that were planted overseas will not disappear due to a change in location. Our students experienced a month of cultural immersion, relationships were formed, perspectives broadened, obstacles surmounted, literal mountains climbed. These seeds of learning will continue to grow and shape our students moving forward. Carpe Diem is dedicated to supporting that process, and developing a digital curriculum to continue that learning, albeit in a new format. 

We are working with our Spring 2020 Overseas Educators to provide all student groups the opportunity to debrief and close out their Carpe Diem experiences virtually this spring. Additionally, our Overseas Educators will be facilitating virtual four Carpe Diem Lessons for all our Spring 2020 students throughout April as a means to continue building greater global awareness, fostering community and inspiring personal growth. 

For any of our students who are receiving college credit through our partnership with Portland State University, we will be providing the opportunity to complete course requirements virtually so that students can receive the number of credits they intended to take this spring. 

We are also working with Spring 2020 families on an individual basis to provide refunds for as much of the unspent program costs as possible.

I am interested in a Fall 2020 semester or Latitudes Year. Will I be able to travel in the fall?

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We understand that you may be wondering how the coronavirus might impact your gap year plans. All of us at Carpe Diem are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to offer gap year students an opportunity for meaningful international travel in the fall. In order to give our students the greatest chance of traveling this fall, we have modified our program itineraries to be limited to one country, delayed the start date of our programs to October 7th and expanded our refund policy to allow you to commit to our program risk-free. To review our Fall 2020 programs, click on "Fall 2020 Programs" in the header. We believe that international travel and our commitment to fostering greater global awareness and building community will be even more important after this global crisis has abated

If you have any concerns about your Fall 2020 semester or plans, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer semester programs in many different regions around the world and are always able to transfer your enrollment to another region (pending availability). Please note that when transferring your enrollment to another region you will be responsible for the difference in tuition and airfare costs.

What are important things that I should look for in a program for Fall 2020?

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When you are researching gap year programs and international travel opportunities for the Fall 2020 season, we encourage you to consider programs that:

  • Are accredited by the Gap Year Association
    • The Gap Year Association is a nonprofit organization that is recognized as setting the standard for the gap year industry for risk management, responsible community engagement, and educational value. Carpe Diem Education was one of the first organizations to pass the GYA’s rigorous set of 125 standards in 2014 and has continued to be a leader in gap year program safety, quality, and integrity.
  • Demonstrate an unwavering commitment to risk management and are willing to share information about their response to coronavirus during the Spring 2020 semester and plans to support students and staff if they become ill during the program or are quarantined for any reason.
  • Will not hesitate to adjust itineraries as necessary to provide the highest quality programming, while maintaining a commitment to keep students, staff and host communities healthy and feeling supported.
  • Provide all students and field staff with international travel insurance (including emergency medical coverage).
  • Are flexible with refund policies for all Fall 2020 students.

What happens if I sign up for a Fall 2020 program now and I decide later that I’m not comfortable traveling, or the program is canceled?

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We recognize that taking a gap year and traveling abroad is a significant investment of time and money and we want to do as much as possible to support you in joining us. To this end, we have expanded our refund policy so that you can apply for one of our programs at no financial risk to you. Please note that you will still be charged the $100 non-refundable application fee for semester programs and $125 for the Latitudes Year. Our expanded refund policy is below: 

  1. If you apply for a Fall 2020 program, submit a deposit, and then decide on or before August 15th that you are not comfortable traveling for any reason, we will refund 100% of your deposit. There is no risk to you if you enroll in a program now and cancel by August 15th.
  2. If you apply for a Fall 2020 program, submit a deposit and decide on or before August 15th that you would like to transfer your enrollment to a Spring 2021 program or a future semester, we will transfer your application and you will not need to reapply.
  3. If you are planning to travel on a Fall 2020 semester and Carpe Diem makes the decision to cancel the program for any reason, we will offer you two different options:
    • We will offer you a space on any other Carpe Diem program that has availability
    • OR we will refund 100% of your deposit and tuition payment so that you can make other plans for your semester.