Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

VR & International Exchange

An assortment of foreign currencies are scattered on a table.
An assortment of foreign currencies are scattered on a table.

Having an international academic experience can enhance your educational and future employment goals.

Quick Facts about Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

  • VR assists people with disabilities to prepare for, find, and keep jobs.
  • It serves a wide range of people with disabilities who may face barriers to employment due to their disability.
  • VR is administered in every U.S. state, though services can vary state to state.
  • Services may include vocational evaluation, support in accessing vocational and other post-secondary education and training, counseling/guidance, provision of rehabilitation technology and/or job accommodations, and more.

To find out if you are eligible and to apply for VR services, call, write or visit the VR Services office nearest you and request an appointment to meet with a counselor.

Find your local VR office by visiting the State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency Directory listed in Related Links.

Use your VR Funds towards Study Abroad Expenses

International Academic Exchange Expenses that VR has previously funded:

  • Tuition, books and supplies for a student with a visual disability to study for a semester in the Czech Republic and Greece
  • Personal Care Attendant (PCA) wages when a PCA was needed for a student who uses a wheelchair to spend a summer session studying in Scotland
  • Tuition and room/board for a Deaf student to study Spanish for a semester in Costa Rica, and for one month of summer school in Mexico
  • Program fee for a blind student who was participating in a summer program in Costa Rica
  • Golf cart rental for a student using a wheelchair on a large campus in Australia
  • Tuition, housing, fees and books for a student with a visual disability to study for a year in England

How to Include Study Abroad in Your VR Plan

  1. Research international academic exchange programs that are related to your major.
  2. Begin thinking through necessary accommodations abroad as well as funding resources for your desired international academic exchange.
  3. Check with your international exchange advisor and health insurance provider to find out about your medical coverage abroad.
  4. Obtain specific materials about the international academic exchange that you can share with your VR counselor.
  5. Answer the following questions and share with your VR counselor:
  • Clearly state how the international academic experience will enhance your educational and future employment goals.
  • List out all of the international academic exchange program expenses. Work with the international exchange program staff to get a clear sense of financial obligations.
  • Include how much you are able to financially contribute towards the expenses.

There is no federal regulation that prohibits the funding of an international program as part of an individual’s vocational rehabilitation plan. Each state has flexibility in the nature and scope of what activities are covered, but cost alone can never be the only reason to deny a particular program.

However, there does need to be a clear link between the international activity and the individual’s vocational objective. It also should be clear that the experience is not available through participation in a domestic program. If a VR counselor agrees that the experience would be valuable and the VR department is supportive, it should be written into the vocational plan. Some states may have state level VR policies that apply.

If VR has already approved funding for tuition, books, fees, personal care attendant, adaptive equipment, or a note-taker while studying in the United States, it may be possible to use those funds to cover the same costs while studying abroad.

If you feel an international experience is crucial to future employability and yet are denied the opportunity to gain that experience as part of a vocational rehabilitation plan, use your right to appeal through the Client Assistance Program. If you can present a strong case that the experience would make you more employable, it should be supported.

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