While Truman State University encourages students to participate in international travel and education abroad, there are inherent risks that come with such travel. In order to ensure the health and safety of all students, the University takes US Department of State travel advisories among other credible sources into consideration when determining the safety and security of a program.
US Department of State Travel Advisory Levels (travel.state.gov)
The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Advisory for each country of the world. Travel Advisories follow a consistent format and use plain language to help U.S. citizens find and use important security information. Travel Advisories apply up to four standard levels of advice, give a description of the risks, and provide clear actions U.S. citizens should take to help ensure their safety.
Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.
Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
Varying Levels: The US Department of State issues an overall Travel Advisory level for a country but levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, DOS may advise US citizens to “Exercise increased caution” (Level 2) in a country, but to “Reconsider travel” (level 3) to a particular area within the country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travel Advisory Levels (cdc.gov/travel/notices)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues different types of notices to inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues related to specific destinations. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.
Level 1 – Watch: Reminder to follow usual precautions for this destination
Level 2 – Alert: Follow enhanced precautions for this destination
Level 3 – Warning: Avoid all non-essential travel to this destination.
Truman State University does not permit travel to a country, or region within a country, under a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 4 or CDC Travel Notice Level 3. Additionally, travel will only be allowed to a country, or region within a country, under a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3 when a formal appeal has been submitted by the student and approved by the Truman Center for International Education Abroad. Truman reserves the right to bar travel or require an appeal for specific countries or regions based on other criteria as it sees fit.
Travel Advisory Policy Exception Request
When travel has been suspended due to a State Department Level 3 Travel Advisory, students may file an appeal through the Center of International Education Abroad. The person(s) requesting the appeal must submit a Travel Advisory Policy Exception Request Form to travel to a restricted region to the Center of International Education Abroad.
The Center of International Education Abroad will review appeals on a case by case basis, taking into consideration all facts and circumstances in any given country/region and any other information which the office deems relevant in determining the safety and security of the country and the student. The office will then decide whether to grant the appeal made by that student.
If a travel warning is issued any time prior to departure, an appeal must be filed and approved before the student departs for that country, even if this results in the student needing to delay travel.
Travel Warnings Implemented Once a Program has Started
If a program is currently underway when a change in travel advisory or notice is announced, and there are circumstances that pose an immediate threat to student health or safety, the University has the discretion to suspend a program and request the student begin evacuation proceedings immediately.
If a program is currently underway when a change in travel advisory or notice is announced for the first time, but there are no circumstances that pose an immediate threat to student health or safety, the University will monitor the situation and evaluate whether a waiver may be warranted or if the program needs to be immediately canceled or altered.
If Truman State University cancels a program prior to departure, the University will make every effort to retrieve any recoverable costs. Unrecoverable expenses, such as airfare, cannot always be refunded. As refunds are not always possible, students may want to consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance that can be obtained through many travel or insurance agents.
If Truman State University cancels a program after it has commenced due to safety or security concerns, refunds will be determined on a case by case basis.
Suspended Program Appeal Process
Appeals are not allowed for travel to countries with US State Department Level 4 travel advisories or CDC Level 3 travel notices. Appeals are considered for travel to a country or region under a US Department of State Level 3 Travel Advisory. Appeals must be made to Truman Center for International Education Abroad. Students are required to submit the Travel Policy Exception Form and any additional documentation to the Center for International Education Abroad. Students may also be required to submit a request for permission to travel to locations or participate in programs that pose a specific health, safety or security concern as indicated by authorities other than the Department of State.
Please note, requests require substantial documentation. The proposal must be strongly linked to academic goals, and the concerns raised in the proposal must be adequately addressed and documented. In the absence of a compelling case and justification, it is unlikely that an appeal will be granted.
Step 1: Submit request for travel policy exception
Those requesting an exception to the international travel policy must submit an official request to the Center for International Education Abroad at least eight weeks before proposed travel.
Step 2: CIEA review
In deciding whether to approve travel, CIEA will consider the following factors, as well as information from governmental sources, the university’s insurance carriers and other expert sources:
- The academic level, purpose and educational/research/professional development importance of the opportunity in relation to the students’ academic program
- Alternative program options and why none were chosen
- The political, physical and travel conditions in the location and the ability to evacuate students, if necessary
- The geographic location of the activity and its relation to the threat addressed by the travel advisory
- Steps taken to minimize the threat
- The level of risk to students’ health and safety
- Traveler experience, both in general and related to the specific location
Step 3: Decision notification
After reviewing requests, CIEA will make a decision regarding each request, which will be communicated to the applicant via email as soon as possible. The decision is final and cannot be appealed.
- Approval only applies to the traveler(s) and dates specifically listed in the official request.
- If a proposal is approved, it is only approved under the conditions at the time of approval. If a new travel advisory or warning is issued, the proposal must be reconsidered. If the program is ongoing and the country or region remains under a Department of State travel advisory at level three or four or CDC travel warning (level three), the program must be re-approved each time an individual or group of students plans to participate.
- The university will not authorize student travel to any country or region for which the Department of State has issued a mandatory evacuation order.
CIEA will not support travel that takes place without adhering to the requirements of this policy. Therefore, any travel to a country or region under a Department of State travel advisory at level three will not be retroactively approved.
Students who successfully appeal and decide to independently travel to or participate in a program in a country with a level 3 State Department travel advisory do so voluntarily, at their own discretion, and fully accept the risks associated with travel to these areas. In cases where an appeal is granted, the University will provide its normal study abroad support services. These services include registering the student in courses during the time they are abroad, authorizing access to financial aid for the program, enrolling the student in travel and medical insurance for the trip, and transferring back course credit for the courses taken abroad.
Individual students who do not receive a successful appeal but still decide to independently travel to or participate in a program in a restricted country or region, do so without the support of the university and fully accept the risks associated with travel to these areas. In cases where an appeal is denied, the University will not provide its normal study abroad support services. These services include, but are not limited to, registering the student in courses during the time they are abroad, authorizing access to financial aid for the program, enrolling the student in travel and medical insurance for the trip, and transferring back course credit for the courses taken abroad.
Policy Adopted July 1st, 2020