BTL FAQS for American Students: 2017

Tuition and fees

How much does it cost to apply?

There is no fee to apply. The application cycle is now open!! Click here to apply!

How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition for accepted American students is $1,800. This includes room and board, materials, instructor fees, printing and photocopying, and van transportation during the program. Upon acceptance, a deposit of $150 is required to secure a place in the program. The balance is due May 31.

Is there financial aid available?

The IWP will give $10,000 in full and partial need-based scholarships to participants accepted to the program. This may include funding for travel. Students may apply for a scholarship after they are accepted into the program.

If I am accepted, but I have to cancel, what is your refund policy?

If you cancel prior to May 31, the entire deposit will be refunded. If you cancel after May 31, all but $50 of the deposit will be refunded. There is no refund after the arrival date and no refund in case you are dismissed prior to the end of the program.

Application/selection process

What exactly are you looking for in a student?

First and foremost, we want someone who is passionate about creative writing. In the writing samples we want to see what best represents you as a writer today. Given our belief that in order to write, you have to read, we expect you to be an avid reader as well. You don't necessarily have to have received straight A's in your English or literature classes, nor will we make you quote Emily Dickinson or Anton Chekhov at will. Since you will be spending a lot of time with fellow students, teachers and staff from different countries and cultures, it's very important that you be open to learning about the many different ways people live in the world and willing to share your own life experiences and unique point of view. Our ultimate goal is to create a community of friends that will continue to support each other in their creative efforts long after they have all gone home.

How old do I have to be to participate?

For all BTL sessions this summer, students must be between 15-18 years old by the time of the camp. You will apply generally to BTL and then have the option to select which session you wish to participate in. You may also note if you are willing to come to either camp.

The IWP can make no exceptions to the rules regarding ages.

Do I have to know another language to participate?

All students, both American and international, are required to be proficient in English in all forms (reading, writing and speaking). Knowledge of another language--Russian, Arabic, or any other--is not required, but it is a definite plus, particularly if you are currently studying another language, or if you grew up in a home or community where different languages are regularly used. There will be a lot of cross-translation going on!

Can I include work from different languages in my writing sample?

All American students must submit their writing samples in English. Throughout BTL there will be opportunities to utilize any knowledge you have of other languages through collaborative translation activities.

Can I include the same story and/or poem in two different languages?

No. Each work submitted should be original and untranslated.

Can I include essays, school newspaper articles, or blog entries in my writing sample?

If your blog entry contains original fiction and/or poetry, then yes, it can be included. Otherwise, we are only interested in reading your original fiction or poetry.

I'm a teacher who would like to send a recommendation letter for a student. Are there any guidelines I should follow?

Simply tell us why you think the student would be a good fit for the program. Refer to What exactly are you looking for in a student? for an idea of what we're looking for.

How do you select students for the program?

A committee reviews all applications and supplemented materials and determines the final group of students.

When will you notify applicants about your decision?

Applicants will be notified mid-April.

Life during BTL

Where will students live?

Students will live in a dorm on the University of Iowa campus. Dorms are clean, comfortable, well-lit, and very secure. Doors are locked each night and security personnel visit each floor regularly. A residence hall manager is available 24 hours a day. Students will be on floors separated by gender, and will live in double rooms. Also living with the students will be counselors, who are hired by the program and undergo background checks and University training. They help maintain a fun but safe environment. The counselors are also graduates of MFA programs in creative writing, and love to talk to our students about the writing life at university.

I live close to the University of Iowa. Can I reside at home during the program?

No. Between the Lines requires all participants to live in the dorm for the duration of the program.

I have relatives in the Iowa City area. Can I reside with them during the program?

No. Between the Lines requires all participants to live in the dorm for the duration of the program.

Can I have a car on campus?

If you drive to the University of Iowa, you must plan to store your car for the duration of the program. Students must be accompanied by program staff on all trips involving car transportation during their stay here. Violating this rule is grounds for dismissal.

What happens if there's a health concern or emergency?

It is expected that American students will have their own medical insurance. If a student falls ill or is injured, they will be taken to the appropriate UI Hospitals and Clinics facility. All costs are the responsibility of the students and/or parents. In order to participate, students and parents must sign a set of forms that include basic health information as well as emergency contact and consent information, all of which is kept strictly confidential.

Classes and schedule

Do you offer college credit for this program or the courses taken?


What will a typical weekday be like?

After breakfast (all meals are served in Burge Dining Hall, which is near the dorm), students and staff will meet to receive announcements about the day's events. Afterwards, all students will attend a world literature seminar, taught in English, in which they will discuss various prose pieces and poetry with an eye towards craft: How do these writers do what they do and how can we as writers learn from them? Lunch is followed by a short period of free time during which students can rest, hang out, or prepare for the next class. The remainder of the afternoon is taken up by a writing workshop, in which students will try their hand at writing various forms of prose and poetry and share their work with each other. There are three workshops at each session: BTL Russian/Arabic has an English-language workshop for American students, a Russian-language workshop, and an Arabic-language workshop; for BTL Russian/Arabic all students are required to take a workshop in their native language. After the workshop, instructors are available to talk with students about their work. Evenings will consist of at least one activity scheduled by program staff, which may or may not be optional. Most evenings students will have plenty of free time to read, write, use the computer, or explore the campus and nearby downtown.

All students are required to be in the dorm building by 10:00 pm, on their floors by 11:00 pm, and in their rooms by 11:30 pm. This rule is in effect every day of the program, including weekends.

I'm multilingual. Can I switch between writing workshops?

No. American students will be placed in the English-language writing workshop.

That said, part of what makes this program unique is that there will be a mix of languages spoken and written, and you are strongly encouraged to share and explore them with your classmates as well as the instructors and staff. In past programs, we have designed several one-off events that were meant to introduce students to the languages their peers speak. This year, we will be ramping that up significantly.

Do you offer writing workshops in languages other than English, Russian, Arabic?

In 2018, Between the Lines will only offer workshops in English, Russian, and Arabic.

What can you tell me about the instructors in the program?

Between the Lines carefully chooses writers who are also great teachers. Please check back in 2018 for a list of upcoming instructors. See Past Sessions for details about instructors from previous years.

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