Host Families: frequently asked questions

Have you ever considered hosting an international exchange student? Do you have questions about hosting? You have come to the right place! Here are our answers to the most common questions we receive about hosting:

1. Why host?

Hosting an exchange student is an incredibly rewarding and life-changing experience in so many ways. It’s a chance for you and your family to learn about new cultures, create lasting friendships and bring the world into your home and community. And for the student you welcome into your family, you’re providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience they’ll treasure forever.

2. What is a typical host family like?

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. Single parents, same-sex couples and grandparents all make wonderful hosts as well.


One thing all of our host families have in common? They are open-minded people who want to learn more about other cultures while sharing their version of American life.

3. What is required of a host family?

Host families provide their student with room and board and are expected to treat their student as a member of a family, not as a guest. Students cover their own travel costs, health insurance, school expenses, cell phone and spending money. EF and the U.S. Department of State also have certain requirements for all host families. For example, host parents should be at least 25 years of age or older.

4. Are host families paid?

Host families are not paid. According the U.S. 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, all host families are eligible to receive a charitable tax deduction on their tax return.

5. Where do students come from?

EF exchange students come from different countries across Europe & Asia: Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Slovakia, Thailand & Taiwan. Beginning in 2020 we will also be welcoming students from Brazil!

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

Yes. Our coordinators and full-time staff will work with you to find the perfect student match. We have spent 40 years matching over 100,000 students to their American host families.

7. 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 in Boston & Denver to be there for you. In the rare case that we can’t all resolve the issue together, EF will find the student a new home.

8. How long will the student be with my family?

EF exchange students come to the U.S. for either one semester (beginning in September or January) or one school year (usually September to June, though it depends on your school district).

9. How else can I get involved?

We are always looking for local exchange coordinators and host family recruiters. Additionally, we offer referral incentives for each family or coordinator you refer to our program.

Find your student now

Are you ready to experience a new culture at home? Talk with us and start your hosting journey now.

Tell us about yourself

Speak to an EF exchange advisor

Choose your exchange student

Information about you