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Frequently Asked Questions

Click a question below to find the answer.

General

Q. Is Cambridge Network certified by any third-party organizations as a reputable homestay provider?

A. Yes. We are proud to be approved by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), the preeminent organization for evaluating and verifying long-term international student exchange programs. This certification reflects Cambridge Network’s commitment to providing a safe and accommodating homestay program for students and host families. Learn More

Q. How long do students stay? What sort of time commitment do I need to make?

A. Because we regularly offer short-term hosting opportunities, there is no minimum time commitment required.

Nevertheless, because we want to provide continuity for our students and to encourage students and hosts to build meaningful, lasting relationships, we do prefer that families commit to hosting for a full academic year (no more than ten months).

Q. Do the students staying for the 10-month academic year go home over the summer or winter breaks?

A. Most students do go home for winter break, although some will stay with family members living in the United States. Almost all students go back to their native countries for summer breaks.

If your student chooses to stay, but you are unable to provide housing during that time, please let Cambridge Network know in advance so we can facilitate alternative accommodations for the student.

Q. Are the students able to speak English?

A. Yes. Although most students come to the United States to improve their English and earn an American diploma/degree, students arrive with at least conversational-level English skills. Nevertheless, hosts need to serve the critical role of patient mentors for students during this cultural immersion experience, particularly upon the student’s immediate arrival since they may be nervous about speaking a second language in a new country.

Q. Do the students have health insurance?

A. Yes. Every student must arrive with health insurance.

Q. What types of visas do the students have?

A. Most of our students will be coming over with an F-1 student visa. Click here to learn more about the F-1 visa.

Q. Am I allowed to invite my student on family trips?

A. Yes, you are allowed and encouraged to bring your student on family trips. Although students are not required to attend, we encourage students to participate in family events, including trips and outings. If you are unable to bring your student with you on a trip, we can help facilitate temporary housing for the student while you’re away.

Host Family Qualifications

Q. What are the basic requirements for becoming a Cambridge Network host family?

A. First and foremost, host families should welcome students into their homes as another member of their family and supervise the student as one would their own child.

Additionally, all host families must be able to provide students:

  • A private bedroom that has two points of exit with proper heating and cooling

  • Three meals per day (including school-provided meals)

  • Daily transportation to and from school (carpool or school bus are acceptable)

Q. What is the minimum age requirement for hosting a student?

A. Hosts must be at least 25 years old.

Q. Do I need to have a child currently enrolled at the same school my student will be attending?

A. No. While we do find that many of our successful host families have children enrolled in our partner schools, it is certainly not a requirement to participate in our program.

Q. Do I need to drive the student to and from school each day personally?

A. No. Although we prefer that hosts personally transport the students, they may take a school bus or carpool with a trusted source.

Q. Can I host a student if I have a pet?

A. Of course! Some of our students prefer living with families who have pets.

Q. Can I host a student if I am a single parent?

A.  Of course! We have a wide range of approved hosts within our program, and we encourage all interested parties to apply.

Q. Can I host more than one student?

A.  Yes. It is possible to host more than one student, but each student is required to have their own bedroom. Please note we allow our students and their natural families to decide whether they want to be placed in a home with another student.

Q. I want to host, but I am not free this semester. Should I still submit an inquiry form?

A.  Yes, you should! Once we have approved your application, we will store it safely in our database for as long as you would like. This allows us to offer you both short and long-term hosting opportunities as they come in throughout the year.

Q. My family and I would like to host, but we have already booked a vacation during the time the student would be living with us. Can we still host the rest of the time?

A.  Absolutely! We encourage all parties to apply even if they will not be able to host for the entirety of the student’s stay. In these scenarios, we are typically able to find another host family to care for the student while you’re away.

Q. What if I can't host, but I know someone that would be interested in hosting?

A.  Please refer them to us, and if they are matched with a student, we will give you a referral bonus! Just fill out a referral form.

Q. Can school faculty members host a student?

A.  Yes, Cambridge Network allows and encourages faculty members at our partner schools to host! It is a valuable experience, and our students see great value in living with a teacher at the same school they are attending. However, some schools or dioceses do not allow school faculty members to host, so please check with your school first. If no such restrictions exist, the faculty member will go through the same application process as any other host.

Payment/Compensation

Q. Will I be offered any compensation for hosting?

A.  Yes. Cambridge Network provides a monthly stipend to offset the costs associated with hosting a student. Stipend amounts range depending on the location and school the student attends.

Q. How will I receive my stipend?

A. Stipend payments are distributed monthly via direct deposit.

Q. Will I have to pay taxes on the stipend I receive?

A. Yes. Stipend payments are considered non-employment income, and a 1099 form will be issued to you at the end of the year.

Nevertheless, we suggest you keep track of spending related to providing care to your student and speak with a tax specialist to see how you can deduct these expenses from the taxable income. Cambridge Network is not authorized to advise on tax matters.

Host Family Application Process

Q. What is Cambridge Network’s host application process?

A. Since we hold our host families to the highest standards, our host approval process includes:

  • Brief Phone Screening

  • Completed Host Application Form

  • Free Background Check for All Adults Living in the Home

  • Personal Reference

  • Short In-Home Inspection

Phone screens provide our staff with the opportunity to speak with you to learn more about why you are seeking to host a student as well as answer any questions you may have regarding the hosting process. If you would like to schedule a phone screen, or learn more about the application process, please submit an inquiry form.

Our application is intended to gather relevant information, including the number of members in your household, rules and expectations within your home, and any dietary restrictions or allergies.

After you have completed both a phone screen and an application, Cambridge Network will run a criminal background check for all adults in your household, free of charge. One of our local staff members will then visit your home for a brief tour and for you to learn more about Cambridge Network. Once completed, we welcome you to our community of host families!

Q. How do I get started with the Host Family Application Process?

A. If you’re ready to join Cambridge Network as a host family, click here to fill out an inquiry form.

Host-Student Matching

Q. After I have been successfully approved as a host family, am I guaranteed a student?

A. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee a student will be matched with you due to the fluctuation of the number of students each year and shifting areas of demand. Once you have been approved as a host family, your profile will be safely stored in our database for as long as you would like, allowing us to offer you any new opportunities to host a student. Moreover, as Cambridge Network continues to grow and partner with more schools in communities across the country, your chances of being matched with a student will increase.

Q. Who determines which student I will be hosting?

A. Students are allowed to view the profiles of available host families within the Cambridge Network community. Once a selection is made, the host is informed and given the option to accept or decline.

Q. What age is the student I will be hosting?

A. We primarily work with students in high school and college (roughly ages 13-22). You are given the opportunity to provide preferences of age for students you’d like to host, but being open to all ages greatly increases your chances of ultimately being matched with a student.

Q. What country will my international student be coming from?

A. We mainly work with students from China, South Korea, and Vietnam. However, we do receive homestay requests from students in many other parts of the world, including South America and Europe.

Q. Can I request a male or female student?

A. Yes. During the application process, you will have the opportunity to provide a student gender preference. Please note, however, that by specifying a choice, you will limit the pool of potential students you might be able to host.

Q. When does the host and student matching process take place?

A. Typically our matching process proceeds in a rolling fashion, beginning in April and ending in August. For this reason, the sooner you become a host, the more opportunities you will have to be matched with a student!

Although the bulk of our matching takes place during these months, it is important to note that we offer several additional hosting opportunities throughout the year.

Q. Can I host the same student for multiple years?

A. Absolutely! Students and hosts often build a familial bond and seek to live together for the duration of the student’s high school years.

Host-Student Matching

Q. If any problems arise, is there a member of Cambridge Network I can contact?

A. Yes. Each community we work with has a local support staff member who serves as the primary liaison between you, Cambridge Network, and your student’s school.

Finally, should you need to contact a student’s natural parents or navigate any cultural or linguistic miscommunications, Cambridge Network has a team of bilingual and bicultural associates who are eager to help.

Q. How does Cambridge Network support its host families?

A. At Cambridge Network, we are proud to offer you the support and resources host families need to thrive – and more.

Once you join us and are successfully paired with a student, our bilingual and bicultural support staff facilitates communication between your family and your student’s natural parents. This bilingual staff is available for translation services throughout your student’s stay. Next, you will receive customized training materials to prepare you for your student’s arrival as well as a host family orientation.

When your new family member arrives and settles into your home, you will receive an in-person check-in from your local staff member. This staff member will serve as your point-person for all your questions or needs and will provide ongoing support to your family throughout your homestay experience. Additionally, this staff member will provide regular check-ins, both via phone and in-person, and, in some cases, even organize exciting events and activities for local host families and their students.

Additionally, Cambridge Network provides host families a monthly stipend to offset the additional costs associated with adding another person to the home.