Terms of Use

Smithsonian Student Travel: Terms and Conditions


Smithsonian Mission:

Smithsonian Student Travel engages participants in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our programs enrich our participants’ lives and inspire their curiosity about the world. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, the National Zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions. Smithsonian Student Travel programs are operated by Putney Student Travel, Inc. under license from the Smithsonian Institution.

We, the undersigned, are submitting Payment of $700 payable to Putney Student Travel, consisting of a $200 non-refundable Application Fee and a $500 Tuition Deposit. The $500 Tuition Deposit is applied toward the applicant’s tuition. If this application is submitted after March 15th, 2024, it must be accompanied by payment in full within five business days of application. 


Applications must be submitted online at: app.smithsonianstudenttravel.org 

There is no application deadline, but since Smithsonian Student Travel may receive more applications than we are able to accept, early applicants have the best chance of being accepted into their first-choice program and/or courses. Applications are carefully reviewed by the Admissions Committee and students are selected on the basis of their maturity, enthusiasm, motivation, and willingness to live and participate constructively in a supportive community environment. 

Applications received by Smithsonian Student Travel on or before March 15:

Smithsonian Student Travel will temporarily reserve space for an applicant in a particular program/course upon receipt of the Online Application Form, a $700 Payment (consisting of a $200 Application Fee and a $500 Tuition Deposit), and signed Agreement Form. The $500 Tuition Deposit is applied toward an applicant’s tuition. An applicant’s file is not complete and cannot be considered for admission until Smithsonian Student Travel has received a completed application which consists of the Online Application Form, signed Agreement Form, $700 Payment, Applicant Statement, and two completed Teacher Reference Forms. The required Applicant Statement is described in the online application. Applicants may e-mail their teacher references directly to their teachers through our online system. Smithsonian Student Travel makes its best efforts to act on each application within one to two days of the date when the application is complete. 

Applicants are responsible for following up with teachers to ensure that they have sent completed reference forms to Smithsonian Student Travel. The most common reason for a delay in processing an application is that we have not received the required references. 

An application, which is initiated by sending Smithsonian Student Travel an Online Application Form, signed Agreement Form, and $700 Payment, must be completed by submitting the additional required items on or before the final payment due date or within 15 days of submitting the application, whichever is later, or the application will be considered withdrawn and the applicant’s temporarily held space will be released. 

If an application is not accepted or if space is not available in the program listed as first choice, the $700 Payment is refunded in full. 

Applicant withdrawal must be submitted to Smithsonian Student Travel in writing. If an applicant withdraws his or her application on or before March 15th, 2024, any payments made through that date, except the $200 Application Fee, are fully refunded. If an applicant withdraws his or her application after March 15th, all payments made through that date, including tuition, airfare, and associated fees, are forfeited. Withdrawals are effective on the date that Smithsonian Student Travel receives written notification. 

Final payment of the full tuition, airfare, and any associated fees is due on March 15th, 2024. Smithsonian Student Travel reserves the right to revoke an applicant’s acceptance if timely payment is not received. No refunds are provided in this circumstance. 

Payment may be made by credit card (Mastercard, Visa, or Discover), check, or wire transfer. Checks must be in U.S. Dollars and must be drawn on a U.S. bank. Please make checks payable to Putney Student Travel and write the student’s name clearly on the check. For payment by wire transfer, please consult our office for wiring information. 

Applicants should consider purchasing trip cancellation insurance (see below) that matches their specific needs. 

Applications received by Smithsonian Student Travel after March 15: 

Applications received by Smithsonian Student Travel after March 15 are handled on an expedited basis. Smithsonian Student Travel will temporarily reserve space for an applicant in a particular program/course upon receipt of the Online Application Form, a $700 Payment (consisting of a $200 Application Fee and a $500 Tuition Deposit), and signed Agreement Form. The $500 Tuition Deposit is applied toward an applicant’s tuition. Within 5 business days, Smithsonian Student Travel must receive the full amount of the tuition, airfare, and any associated fees or the application will be considered withdrawn and all payments made to date will be forfeited. If an application is not accepted or if space is not available in the program listed as first choice, all payments will be refunded in full. Applicant withdrawals must be submitted to Smithsonian Student Travel in writing. If an applicant withdraws his/her application for any reason, all payments made to date will be forfeited, including tuition, airfare, and associated fees. 


Wait-listed Applications: 

Students who wish to reserve space on a waitlist for a program that is currently full must complete the Online Application Form, provide a $700 Payment (consisting of a $200 Application Fee and a $500 Tuition Deposit) and submit a signed Agreement Form. The $700 Payment is fully refunded if space does not become available or if the application is withdrawn prior to acceptance. A wait-listed application must be complete to be considered for acceptance.

Note on Fees: 

Changes in foreign currency valuations and other items can necessitate changes in our fees. Smithsonian Student Travel fees, therefore, are subject to change. 

Cancellation by Smithsonian Student Travel:

Smithsonian Student Travel reserves the right to alter or cancel any of its programs, and to alter or cancel courses of study and/or activities and/or excursions. We are not responsible for costs incurred in preparing for a program that is canceled.

If a program is canceled prior to departure by Smithsonian Student Travel, participants will receive a full refund of monies paid. 

Cancellation by Smithsonian Student Travel while program is in progress: 

Smithsonian Student Travel will provide participants a pro-rated refund based on the number of days not completed on the program. If a participant elects to leave a program in progress of their own volition or if a participant is required by Smithsonian Student Travel to leave as described above, the participant will not receive any refund.

Trip Cancellation Insurance: 

We recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance. Smithsonian Student Travel will provide trip cancellation insurance information along with your final invoice. We encourage you to review the terms of insurance carefully so you are familiar with what documentation and medical review is necessary for a claim to be honored. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy. 


All participants are required to have their own medical insurance.

What’s included in the Tuition? 

Tuition for Smithsonian Student Travel covers all day-to-day expenses including three meals each day, lodging, entertainment, excursions, any theatre and concert tickets, entry fees, bike and boat rentals, equipment rental, tips, and all ground transportation during the program, including trains, buses and taxis. Tuition does not include the $200 Application Fee, international or internal airfare, baggage fees, visa and entry/exit fees, laundry, communication home, health care, COVID-19 tests, Trip Cancelation Insurance, gifts, snacks, or other personal expenses. 

Basis of Program Tuition:

All tuitions are based on shared accommodations throughout the program, unless otherwise noted and are quoted in U.S. dollars.

Smithsonian Student Travel arranges an escorted round-trip group flight at additional cost for each of our international programs, and some of our domestic programs. In the case of airline delays or cancellations families are responsible for any additional hotel, transportation, food, and airline fees resulting from such delays or cancellations. 

Travel Documents and Information:

Participants are responsible for obtaining any documents required for their participation in the program such as a valid passport, all visas, vaccination certificates, and any other documents. Failure to obtain documents does not negate the terms and conditions, and any extra costs incurred for rerouting or delay due to travel without the necessary documents will be the participant’s responsibility. If not a U.S. citizen, participants should contact the embassy or consulate of the countries they will visit or transit through to ensure they obtain the proper documentation.

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of the program, and with at least six blank pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all programs. The U.S. Department of State no longer adds pages into U.S. passports. Applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD). Non-U.S. citizens should contact their passport office for information on required visas and other travel requirements.

Privacy Policy:

Our privacy policy can be found at https://smithsonianstudenttravel.org/privacy-policy/


We acknowledge that PST, its employees, shareholders, affiliates, officers, directors, successors, and assigns, and the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives, agents, and the United States (collectively “Smithsonian Student Travel”) do not own, operate, supervise, and/or manage many of the persons or entities which are to or do provide goods or services for the trip or program we are booking, including, for example, lodging facilities of any kind, airline, vessel or other transportation companies, local guides, guide services or local ground operators even if they use the Smithsonian Student Travel name, providers or organizers of optional excursions, food service or entertainment providers, etc. All such persons and entities are independent contractors. As a result, Smithsonian Student Travel is not liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any such person or entity or of any other third party. In addition and without limitation, Smithsonian Student Travel is not responsible for, and we hereby agree to release, indemnify and hold Smithsonian Student Travel harmless from, liability for any injury, loss, death, inconvenience, delay, or damage to personal property, whether resulting from, but not limited to, acts of God or force majeure, acts of war or civil unrest, insurrection or revolt, acts of government, incidents, attacks or bites from domestic or wild animals, insects or pests, strikes or other labor activities, athletic or sporting events or endeavors including the normal risks associated with same, widespread communicable disease outbreak (e.g. COVID-19, SARS, etc.) or other public health emergency event declared by local, State or Federal government order to be an epidemic, pandemic, public emergency or similar, quarantines, or the threat thereof, adequacy or availability of health services and/or evacuation services if necessary, criminal, terrorist or threatened terrorist activities of any kind, overbooking or downgrading of accommodations, mechanical or other failure of airplanes or other means of transportation, or for any failure of any transportation mechanism to arrive or depart timely or safely, or loss, damage or delay in delivery of luggage and/or personal effects, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of program staff or other persons or entities. We accept all the risk attendant thereto and voluntarily accept the same as risks of our child/ward’s participation in the program. In addition, we agree to be bound by Smithsonian Student Travel’s Terms of Payment, including policies on refunds, as stated above.

Our child/ward is prepared and we believe he/she is capable of handling both the emotional and physical aspects of the program as well as any risks that may be involved. Smithsonian Student Travel expects program participants to maintain high standards of personal behavior. Since participants are encouraged, within the context of Smithsonian Student Travel programs, to take leadership roles and to make some of their own discoveries, we understand that students whose parents require them to be under constant surveillance or who are likely to act irresponsibly, use drugs, alcohol or tobacco, or behave in a disruptive manner, should not apply. Furthermore, we agree that should our child/ward’s conduct, at the sole discretion of Smithsonian Student Travel, be deemed to be in violation of Smithsonian Student Travel’s rules or otherwise detrimental to the maintenance of standards or to the successful operation of Smithsonian Student Travel’s programs, Smithsonian Student Travel may dismiss him/her/them from the program. We agree that dismissal may occur at a location far from the child/ward’s home. We agree that should our child/ward be dismissed from a Smithsonian Student Travel program, we will make arrangements for, bear the cost of, and provide supervision for the dismissed child/ward, even in situations that require extended international travel, and that no refund of the tuition will be given for a dismissed student. There will also be no refund for students who withdraw voluntarily, or as the result of illness or accident, during a program. Students dismissed from programs will not receive credit for community service hours or any other certifications of completion prior to their dismissal.

By signing this Agreement, we consent to the use of photographs, video, and film of and/or created and submitted by the student and written correspondence from parents and students in promotional materials for Smithsonian Student Travel, the Smithsonian Institution, or Smithsonian authorized third parties, all without compensation to us.

Binding Arbitration:

This paragraph relates solely to the tour operator (Putney Student Travel, Inc.). Any dispute between us and Putney Student Travel, Inc. (but not between us and the Smithsonian Institution) concerning this contract, the Trip Cancellation Insurance, the brochure, or any other advertising material concerning this program or the program itself will be resolved exclusively by binding arbitration in Vermont pursuant to the then current commercial rules of the American Arbitration Association. The arbitrator and not any federal, state, or local court or agency shall have exclusive authority to resolve any dispute relating to the interpretation, applicability, enforceability, conscionability, or formation of this contract, including but not limited to any claim that all or any part of this contract is void or voidable. Vermont substantive law will apply to all issues concerning any such dispute. 

Any action or legal proceeding against the Smithsonian Institution in connection with our Smithsonian Student Travel program shall be brought only in a United States federal court of competent jurisdiction.

We have read and agree to all the terms of this Agreement as well as the description of the program, as stated at SmithsonianStudentTravel.org. If any provision of this contract is held to be unenforceable, the remainder of the contract is enforceable.