Supporting F-1 Students and Sponsors

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Welcome to the Private School Advantage (PSA) Program

Many private high schools across the U.S. sponsor international students on F-1 visas. Private School Advantage (PSA) provides support to sponsoring schools and students by screening and vetting host families and helping these students adjust to their new environment to reduce the amount of staff time required. The program is designed to help ensure a mutually rewarding cultural exchange experience and to offer peace of mind to school staff, international students and parents, and American host families.

PSA is sponsored by the American Institute For Foreign Study Foundation, a leading not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1967. Its mission is to promote worldwide understanding through cultural exchange. The Foundation also awards grants to American high schools for projects that encourage intercultural awareness and provides scholarships that enable young Americans to study and travel abroad. Learn more.

Since 1981, the Foundation has been running successful cultural exchange program, Academic Year in America (AYA), which brings students over on J-1 visas. PSA brings the same 35 years of experience to assist F-1 students. Learn more.

"I am sure that my experience abroad helped with my future. Thanks to my exchange program, I decided what degree I wanted to get at the university, and today I am in my first year of courses in International Relations."

- Devlin from Brazil

Why Choose Private School Advantage (PSA)

Safety & Security

  • Comprehensive host family screening services including:

    • background check
    • interviews
    • reference check
    • application
  • Optional Comprehensive Medical Insurance package for students

Five-Star Support Services

  • 24/7 emergency support by trained professionals
  • Monthly support and check-ins for students
  • Handling and reporting of problems, incidents and health-related issues

Cultural & Transitional Facilitation

  • Student and host family orientations
  • Counseling and support on culture shock, homesickness and acclimating to the American school system
  • Assistance with conflict resolution and host family changes

Please note PSA is a services and support program. We currently do not offer student or host family recruitment services.

For High Schools

PSA invites high schools to partner with us to ensure that your students and faculty have a rewarding experience.

Studying in the U.S. is a valuable experience for both international students and the high schools they attend. Transitioning to an American high school can be daunting for students when they first arrive, and they may need the support and counseling of trained professionals who can help them navigate through culture shock, understand the American educational system and provide support services outside of the school administration.

Many high schools will find that partnering with PSA not only provides counselors and teachers with an additional outlet for support, but also helps students maximize their academic success and expedite their adjustment at school.

Students will benefit from regular contact with a PSA coordinator who can help them identify and overcome cultural/adjustment issues that may otherwise hinder their progress.

PSA will also work directly with host families, who will find peace of mind in knowing that support is available at any time during the hosting experience.

Support Services for Schools & Host Families:

  • Screening and orientation for host families (screening includes criminal background checks for all household members 18 years and older, a home interview, reference checks)
  • Orientation for students upon arrival
  • Monthly check-ins with the students, host families and high school from a PSA coordinator
  • Counseling on cultural adjustment issues, homesickness and acclimating to life in the U.S., and life with a new teenager in the home
  • Assistance with conflict resolution, mediation, host family changes
  • Handling and reporting any incidents or health-related issues
  • 24/7 emergency answering service

For Students

PSA fully understands the benefits of attending a U.S. high school and wants to ensure that students are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment with the security of knowing that they have the support of a reputable organization.

With PSA, students will be able to seek counsel and support from trained PSA counselors who can help them navigate through cultural and language adjustments, understand the American educational system and communicate with their host families.

PSA will have an active role in thoroughly screening host families; providing comprehensive orientations to both students and host families; supporting students throughout the program year through regular check-ins and follow-ups; and assisting with any cultural adjustment issues, conflict resolution and host family changes if necessary. In partnership with high schools, PSA will support students through any issues and also offers a 24/7 emergency support service for additional peace of mind.

Support Services for Students:

  • Comprehensive host family screening services that include a background check, host family interview, reference check and application.
  • Orientation upon arrival
  • Monthly support from a trained PSA coordinator
  • On-going support and counseling; monthly check-ins
  • Assistance with problem-solving, mediation and host family changes when necessary
  • Counseling and support on culture shock, homesickness and acclimating to the American school system
  • 24/7 emergency answering service
  • Comprehensive medical insurance that students can purchase through PSA