Q. What is a Host Family?
A. A host family is the residential cornerstone of Premier Education’s international student program. A host family provides housing, meals and basic transportation for the international student during the school year.
Q. What are the basic requirements for becoming a host family for Premier Education?
A. First and foremost, host families should be committed Christians. Additionally, they must speak English in their home as the primary language, have a desire to welcome an international student into their home as another member of their family and supervise the student as they would with one of their own children.
The host family must be able to provide the student with:
a private bedroom and a quiet place to study
3 meals per day
daily transportation to and from school
Other expectations include open communication, encouragement, patience and sound advice.
Q. Do I need to personally drive the student to and from school each day?
A. In most cases, our host parents drive our students to and from school each day. However if it is available, with approval from Premier Education, students may take a school bus or carpool with a trusted source.
Q. How long do students stay? What sort of time commitment do I need to make?
A. 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 (typically this will be from the beginning of August through the end of May, though individual school schedules may dictate slight adjustments. After the first year, Premier Education will evaluate the situation with host families to decide if it’s the best interests for everybody to continue for another year.
Q. Are host families provided compensation for hosting the student?
A. Yes. Premier Education provides a generous monthly stipend to the Homestay family along with a convenient reimbursement system for incidental expenses. In addition to the monthly stipend, Homestay host families are eligible to receive an annual performance bonus at the end of the school year.
Q. How will I receive my stipend?
A. Stipend payments are distributed monthly via check.
Q. Will I have to pay taxes on the stipend I receive?
We report stipend payments and issue the hosting family with a 1099-MISC tax form. We cannot offer tax advice, but suggest that the host family engages with their accountant or tax specialist to address this. We recommend host families keep records of expenses incurred as a result of hosting the student.
Q. What does the host application process entail? Can you walk me through it from start to finish?
A. The host approval process includes:
a formal application
a phone interview
an in-home visit
a criminal background check (at no cost to you)
Our application process is intended to gather basic information including the number of members in your household; your rules and expectations within your home; and your dietary restrictions and/or allergies. Additionally, the information is used in the student / host family matching process. All information you provide is kept confidential and is only used for the purpose of determining your suitability as a Homestay Host Family. A formal application is available by contacting us at 512-596-0140.
The phone interview (which can be done either before, or after, an application has been submitted) provides our staff the opportunity to speak with you in person to learn more about why you are seeking to host a student, as well as to answer any questions you may have regarding the program or your application. If you would like to schedule a phone interview, or learn more about the application process, please contact us at 512-596-0140.
After you have completed both the application and a phone interview, one of our local staff members will schedule a time to visit your home for a brief tour and in-person interview.
Upon completing your successful in-home visit, we will run a criminal background check for all of the adults in your home (at no cost to you). Once this background check is complete, we will begin the student / host family matching process.
Q. After I have been successfully approved as a host family, am I guaranteed a student?
A. No, however the majority of our hosts are ultimately matched with a student, typically for the upcoming school year.
Additionally, once you have been approved as a host, your application will be stored in our database for as long as you would like, allowing us to offer you regular opportunities to host a student. Moreover, as Premier Education continues to grow and partner with more and more schools in your community, your opportunities to host a student will increase.
Q. Who determines which student I will be hosting?
A. Our local staff will use the information provided by you on the application and interviews, along with student profile information to identify potential matches. The student, along with their natural parents, are given the final approval regarding the recommended match.
Q. When does the “matching” process take place?
A. Our matching process occurs in an iterative fashion, beginning in April and ending in August. For this reason, the sooner you become host, the more opportunities you will have to be matched with a student!
Although the bulk of our matching takes place during these months, occasionally additional hosting opportunities may arise throughout the school year.
Q. Can I host the same student for multiple years?
Absolutely! Students and hosts often build a familial bond and seek to live together for the duration of the student’s high school career.
Q. Does Premier Education support its host families? How?
A. At Premier Education, we’re proud to offer you the support and resources host families need to thrive – and more.
Once you become a Premier Education host family and are successfully paired with a student, our bilingual and bicultural student support staff facilitates communication between your family and your student’s natural parents in order to introduce you to one another. This bilingual staff is available for translation services throughout your student’s stay in case an emergency arises. Next, you will receive training materials and direct engagement from one of our local Student Success Coordinators to prepare you for your student’s arrival.
Once the student arrives and settles into your home, you will receive an in-person check-in from your local Student Success Coordinators. This staff member will serve as your point-person for all of your basic questions and will provide ongoing support to you and your family throughout each student’s stay. 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.
Q. If problems arise, is there a member of Student Success Coordinators that I can contact?
A. Yes. Each community we work with has local Student Success Coordinators who serve as the primary liaison between you, your student’s natural parents, the Premier Education community of other students and the school your student is enrolled in.
Finally, should you need to navigate any cultural or linguistic miscommunications, Premier Education features a team of bilingual and bicultural associates who are eager to help.
Q. What age is the student I’ll be hosting?
A. We currently work primarily with students in middle school and high school (typically ages 12-17).
Q. What country will my student be coming from?
A. We primarily work with students from Asia, with a focus on China.
Q. Can I request a gender or age preference for the student?
A. Yes. During the application process you will have the opportunity to state a gender &/or age preference. Please note, however, that by stating a preference you may be limiting the pool of potential students you might be able to host.
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 host families do have children attending at our partner schools, that is not a requirement to participate in our program.
Q. I am a single parent. Can I be a host?
A. Of course! We have a wide range of approved hosts within our program and 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 there are additional requirements for host families who desire to host multiple students. If you’re interested in hosting multiple students, we encourage you to call us at 512-596-0140
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 arrange for interim residential accommodations during your absence. Alternatively, with requisite approvals, you can include the student in your vacation activities.
Q. Do the students have health insurance?
A. Yes. Every student will arrive with health insurance provided by Premier Education at no cost to the host family..
Q. Are the students able to speak English?
A. Yes. We focus on three areas of English proficiency for each student – speaking, comprehension, reading. All students have taken English classes in their home country, however that does not make them ‘fluent’ in English. The primary reason most students come to the United States is to improve their English and position themselves to attend and earn a degree from an American university. All students will have at least conversational-level English skills. It is important as hosts to serve as mentors for students, particularly upon the student’s arrival, since students may be nervous speaking a second language in a new country.
Q. I want to host, but I’m not free this semester. Should I still begin the application process?
A. Yes, you should! Please indicate on your application which semester, or school year, you are able to act as a hosting family. This allows us to offer you both short-term and long-term hosting opportunities that may become available throughout the year.
Q. What if I can’t host a student but know someone who can? Is there any sort of referral bonus for sending qualified hosts to Premier Education?
A. Yes, there is a referral bonus! Any time you refer an applicant who becomes an approved host you will earn a $200 referral bonus.
Q. Can I still host a student if I have a pet?
A. Of course! In fact, some of our students prefer living with families who have pets. We simply will not present your host profile to students who have allergies or a fear of animals.
Q. Am I allowed to invite my student on family trips?
Yes, you are both allowed and encouraged to bring your students on family trips. Moreover, although students are not required to attend, we encourage students to participate in family events, including trips and outings.
Q. Do the students staying for the 10-month school year go home over the summer or winter breaks?
A. Some students do go home for winter break, although most will stay with family members living in the United States. Almost all students go home for summer breaks. Premier Education also organizes trips during major holidays.
Q. Are the students allowed to drive?
A. Generally we do not allow any of our students to drive while they are enrolled in our program, regardless of their age.
Q. What types of visas do the students have?
A. The vast majority of our students will be coming over with an F1 student visa.
Q. I’m ready to host. How do I get started?
First use “contact us” page to send us an email or call us at 512-596-0140. You’ll receive an email with host family application forms. You will also be contacted by our staff in your area.