Become A Host Family!

EF Foundation 2012_DSC9557What makes a good host family?

Our host families are volunteers, and represent the diversity of American culture – with varied economic, religious and racial backgrounds. Among those who truly enjoy the exchange experience are parents looking to give their families a glimpse of the world and introduce them to new customs and cultures, without having to travel the globe.

Many of our host families do not have children, while others have adult children who no longer live at home. They say that hosting an exchange student gives them an opportunity to enrich their own lives and connect with their community in a whole new way.

Like our students, host family applicants undergo a screening process to ensure that they are well suited for an exchange experience. To become a host family, at least one adult in the household must be a minimum of 25 years old. If you are single and wish to host, EF Foundation must get permission from the student’s parents before placing a student in your home.

Do I have to have a teenage son or daughter to be a host?

You don’t have to have a teenager to be a host. Many of our host families have young children, adult children or no children. More than 20 percent of our host parents do not have children of their own. And another 25 percent have children under the age of 12.

What is EF’s hosting policy for same-sex couples?

Our host families represent the diversity of American culture, and we encourage families of all shapes and sizes to consider hosting.

Like our students, all host family applicants undergo a screening process to ensure that they are well suited for an exchange experience. In many cases (for example, when same-sex couples are interested in hosting), we must first gain approval from the exchange student’s parents prior to the match. This helps us to ensure the best possible student match for our families.

How are students selected?

EF Foundation has a rigorous student selection process to ensure that students are well suited for an exchange experience. They must pass a strict screening process for motivation, character, grades and proficiency in written and spoken English language skills.

Student applications must include a letter of recommendation, academic transcripts, an essay written in English and a number of short-answer questions about the student’s family life. Students must be between the ages of 15 to 18 to participate in the program. Once students arrive, they are held to high behavioral and academic standards which they are expected to maintain throughout their exchange year.

What are the expectations of being a host family?

In addition to providing room and board, host families are expected to treat their student as a member of the family, not as a guest. By sharing everyday experiences and events, such as birthday parties, holiday traditions, evening meals, sporting events, movies and even household chores, host families are able to give their exchange student a true American experience. In return, exchange students introduce host families to new customs, cultures and language, and offer a new perspective on the world.

Are host families paid?

Host families are not paid. According the United States 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.

In addition, EF Foundation is the only high school exchange program to offer host families the opportunity for great discounts on exciting tours around the world through EF Education First’s Educational Tours, Smithsonian Student Travel and Go Ahead Tours. Further, only EF Foundation offers a Host Family Perks program which gives host families access to more than 250,000 discounts and savings in their local communities, online and at the grocery store.

Where do students go to school?

Students typically attend the public high school closest to the host family home. Coordinators work with host families and schools to enroll students.

Why would someone want to bring an international teenager into their home?

Hosting an exchange student is a great step toward preparing your children for the 21st century. There are few experiences that can spark an interest in new cultures like welcoming an international student into your home. Many of our hosts with grown children, or no children of their own, say that hosting an exchange student gives them an opportunity to enrich their own lives and connect with their community in a whole new way.

Overwhelmingly, our host families say the exchange experience has led them to create life-changing, lasting friendships, gain fresh perspectives on the world, and enrich their families and communities. In fact, more than 30 percent of our host families enjoy the experience so much that they host multiple times.

Host families also play an important role in public diplomacy. The United States Department of State relies on American families like yours to serve as citizen ambassadors and help foster positive impressions of the United States. According to the U.S. State Department, expanding communications between United States citizens and people from other countries is a priority foreign policy goal.

How do you prepare families for hosting?

No other exchange organization offers as strong a support network as EF Foundation. Host families receive training, guidance and ongoing support to be prepared and confident hosts. We have a team of 700 trained local coordinators in addition to a full-time professional support staff at our Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters. Their goal is to create quality experiences for both students and their host families. Support is available to host families 365 days a year/24 hours a day.

How do you prepare students for the transition into an American home?

Through our relationship with EF High School Year, the organization responsible for recruiting students to participate in exchange and preparing them for their exchange experience, we can be certain that students are ready for their transition to American life.

Before traveling to the United States, students are required to attend EF High School Year’s orientation meetings to learn about living with a host family, cultural aspects of American life and practical advice and tips related to travel logistics. They are also sent regular communications on American customs and traditions, including background on the states in which they will be living.

Further, once the placement has been finalized, the host family and student are encouraged to contact one another so that they can establish a relationship before the student arrives in the United States.

How expensive is it to host a student?

Host families are required to cover costs associated with at-home meals, any packed school lunches, transportation to reasonable social and extra-curricular activities, and shelter. Students bring their own pocket money to cover routine expenses including cell phone bills, school expenses, clothing and recreation such as trips to the movies. Students also are required to purchase approved health insurance valid in the United States.

As one way to thank our host families, EF Foundation offers a Host Family Perks program with access to more than 250,000 discounts and savings in their local communities, online and at the grocery store. We are the only organization in the industry to offer this benefit.

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

EF Foundation understands that compatibility between host family and student is essential to a successful exchange experience. Matching the right student with the right family is a top priority.

We have spent more than 30 years matching over 100,000 students to their American host families. We understand that students become family members and fully participate in host family activities. Our coordinators and full-time professional placement specialists make it a priority to connect families and students with common interests, such as a love of music, art, camping or cooking.

What if it does not work out?

If problems arise between the host family and student, the local coordinator is there to provide support with professional guidance from our national office. Full-time staff is dedicated to assisting families, students and our coordinators with any questions or challenges that come up during the exchange. If it turns out that differences cannot be resolved, EF Foundation will help the student transition to a new home. We are committed to ensuring that both students and host families have a positive exchange experience.


There are several ways that you can get started towards hosting a fantastic 2013 – 14 EF Foundation exchange student:

1. Call us at 1-800-44-SHARE (74273) to connect with a member of our staff right away.

2. Fill out our online interest form and someone from our office will follow up with you within 2 business days.

3. Search our 2013 -14 students to find one who will fit in your family. Express interest online, and someone from our staff will follow up with you within 2 business days. Once your family’s application has been approved, you will have access to full student information, including photos.

4. Jump right in! Start the host family application now. The application process can take several days and will incorporate an interview in your home plus personal and professional references. Once your family has been approved, you will have access to full student information.

5. All potential host families are legally required to submit a background check. You can complete this step as you are working on your application. The background check is online and it’s easy!

6.  Want to speak with a local resource?  Fill out your information below to speak with an International Exchange Coordinator in the Delaware/Maryland area.


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