Deadlines & FAQs

For arranging air/bus/train travel for unaccompanied campers, click here.

Does the UTNIF offer scholarships or financial aid?

Information about financial aid is here.

Why haven’t I received any e-mails from you?

Please make sure your spam blockers are set up to allow mail from camp staff, including,  Kate Richey (katerichey@utexas.edu) and Prof. Randy Cox (mrcox@austin.utexas.edu). This is the #1 problem for people not receiving e-mails from us. If you need us to resend copies of important e-mails, contact katerichey@utexas.edu) Additionally, you may reach the UTNIF by telephone at (717) 478-8643

Can you tell us who else from our area is attending?

Due to privacy concerns, we cannot release information about other individuals’ registrations.

Will a physical examination by our physician be required?

No. UT no longer requires a physician’s pre-clearance for academic camps.

The Dorms, Arriving, and Leaving

Where will my child be staying?

The Castilian Dormitory. 2323 San Antonio Street. (directions provided below)

Address all camper mail to:

Student Name
C/O UTNIF
The Castilian Dormitory
2323 San Antonio St.
Austin, TX 78705

From Interstate 35 (either direction), exit Martin Luther King Blvd. Go west (towards the capital/downtown area) on MLK. From westbound MLK, turn right on San Antonio St., which is soon after the light for Guadalupe. Travel north until San Antonio reaches a “T” intersection with 24th Street, and you will see The Castilian garage entrance on the right.

For more detailed directions, see Google Maps. The intersection on Google Maps is the best in terms of easy access to parking and the residential floors.

What accommodations are offered at the Castilian?

The Castilian is air conditioned.  Student meal plans are all inclusive of 3 meals on weekdays and 2 meals on weekend days.  Many vegetarian and vegan options are available in the cafeteria. The Castilian has common lounges on each floor, a study lounge,  and wireless internet access. 2 people are housed in each room, each room with a private bathroom shared with the adjoining suite. Each room is furnished with beds, desks, and a refrigerator.  Each suite has access to a microwave and mini-fridge.  The Castilian is monitored 24 hours a day by an attendant at the front desk and is also patrolled by its private security team. Students will need to provide their own sheets (twin long), although shower curtains and toilet paper are provided by the facility.

How can I contact my child or staff during camp?

Campers may receive mail as described above. For urgent messages to individual campers, you may call the camp administration office (students will be given this number upon arrival at camp) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. This phone number as well as 24-hour emergency contact information will be provided at check-in.

Registration, Checking In, and Checking Out

Registration for CX Debate students, Public Forum debate,  Lincoln Douglas, and Individual Events will be in the dormitory (2323 San Antonio street) on your program start date from 12:30 until 3:00 PM. This means that if you are arriving a day early you still must come to registration the next day. There is NO early registration. If you are arriving a day early there will be instructions at the front desk on how to check in.

LATE REGISTRATION. Late registration can be arranged for you if necessary. Please let us know if you will be arriving late and send us any pertinent flight information.

DEPARTURE: Departure time is after noon on the last day of your camp. You must be out of your room by 12:00 P.M. on your departure date. If you need to leave early to catch a flight or for some other reason that is okay–simply inform the dormitory head and follow check out instructions. You must have your room checked for cleanliness and damages even if you leave at 5.30AM!

If you must arrive or depart on different dates than indicated above, please let us know.

How do I get to and from the airport?

The UTNIF cannot provide transportation to and from the airport. It is about a twenty minute cab ride from the airport to the Castilian. For convenience, we recommend that you take Supershuttle–call them at (512) 258-3826 or at www.supershuttle.com to make a reservation. Be advised that non-commuting students driving personal vehicles to the workshop must relinquish their keys to the dorm staff upon registering for the institute and are not permitted to drive while the institute is in session. Parking is available for $7 a day. If you need to arrive one day early or depart one day late due to travel requirements, housing may be available for $40 per day. Please let us know by your payment due date if you need to stay with us 1-2 extra days.  Extra nights will only be accommodated as our room availability permits.

Can my child be assigned a certain roommate?

Yes, we are accepting mutual requests – this means both students must request each other for us to honor it. Students must be in the same program, for the same length of stay.  Please submit these requests as early as possible after application. They may be subject to a deadline after which they will no longer be able to be honored.  We will do our best to honor all qualified requests.  We are not able to honor requests for suitemates – only room mates.  Students will not find out if their roommate requests have been satisfied until they arrive at camp.  Oftentimes we do not receive rooming contraints and floor plans from the dorm facility until very near the camp start date, so we are unable to give you information regarding your request until check in.

What will my child need to bring?

Students will need to bring their own sheets (Extra-Long Twin size), blankets, pillows, towels, cell phones or calling cards, alarm clocks, laundry supplies, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptop. Some students may wish to bring a printer although it is not necessary; the rooms will have wireless high-speed Internet access. Most importantly, make sure to pack clothing that is appropriate for the heat of Austin’s summer!

What will I need to bring to registration?

Any outstanding forms if you have not already submitted them.

A $50 CASH security deposit, to be refunded once library fees, lost key fines, and any room damages are assessed. Do not pay your deposit with your tuition – bring cash to registration.

How much money will my child need?

Students will need enough money for the following: Laundry ($1 for each use of a washer or dryer, machines accept coins or debit card), bottled water and snacks, office/filing supplies, UTNIF apparel, etc. Students staying in the dormitory will receive 3 meals a day, with the exception of check in and check out days.  Check in day, students are provided dinner.  Check out day, students are provided breakfast. Students may also wish to bring pocket money for things like supplies, soda, pizza, etc.  The amount of pocket money to bring varies from student to student, and family to family depending on your personal preferences.

Are any meals provided in the camp fees?

All meals are already included in your camp fees. Students staying in the dormitory will receive 3 meals a day, with the exception of check in and check out days.  Check in day, students are provided dinner.  Check out day, students are provided breakfast.

Will my child need tournament attire?

Debate students will not need tournament attire.  Students in the Individual Events portion of the camp will want to bring one set of appropriate tournament attire.

How old must my child be to attend UTNIF?

UTNIF curriculum are not designed for elementary students.  Most of our students will be in high school, with fewer in middle school and almost all having completed the 7th grade.  On rare occasion, with the permission of the camp director, students entering the 7th grade have been allowed to attend.  However,  all students must be at least 13 years of age to stay as residents in the dorm.  Students entering the 7th grade who are not 13, may be able to attend as commuters, with prior permission from the camp director.

Camper Safety and Security

Will my child have access to a phone?

UTNIF strongly recommends students bring cellular phones. Parents who need to contact students with urgent messages may call the camp administration office; this contact information will be provided at registration.

Will I have access to any gym facilities?

No.

Who will be watching my child? What are the UTNIF policies regarding supervision?

Rest assured, student safety is a serious concern for our staff. Students who violate the policy of the dorms or the workshop are subject to sanction and in some cases may be required to leave the camp. We aren’t out to unduly punish anyone or send anyone home for trivialities, however, our primary goal is to create and maintain a hospitable space for learning and the exchange of ideas. The purpose of UTNIF rules and policies is to preserve that space and to allow this unique opportunity to engage, challenge, and enlighten one another to continue to exist.

Morning Check-In

Each morning, before breakfast, students are required to check in with our Administrative offices.

Lab Attendance

Roll is taken at each lab session – morning, afternoon, and evening. If a student is late to lab or absent, our administrative staff is notified and we track them down to make sure that they are properly accounted for.

Nighttime Supervision

Each floor of the dormitory is monitored by an UTNIF dorm staffer. Their job is to make sure that students stay in their rooms and don’t travel from floor to floor. Elevators and stairwells are easily supervised such that student compliance can be assured. In addition to UTNIF dorm staff supervision, the dorm facility itself is protected and patrolled by the dorm’s own security team. All traffic into and out of the building is directed past a central desk so that unauthorized exit or entry can be prevented.

Can my child drive while at the institute?

Students staying in the dormitory are not permitted to drive or ride in any private vehicle unless you provide written authorization as described below. Dorm students must relinquish their keys to dorm staff upon registering for the institute, and the keys will not be returned until their session ends.

Do you perform criminal background checks on your staff?

All teaching staff and dormitory personnel hired by the UTNIF must pass an annual criminal background check to ensure the safety of our students.  All staff are also required by Texas law to complete a Child Abuse Awareness and Child Protection training course.

Payment and Deposits

Does my application fee apply towards my deposit or tuition?

Yes. The “application fee” really functions more as a “down payment”. It is counted toward the total tuition due. However, it is not refundable for any reason.

How can I pay?

UTNIF is only accepting payments for application fees and deposits by debit or credit cards from individuals.  School districts and other organizations that must pay by check should contact Kate Richey to make arrangements to do so.

When must I pay my balance?

Payment needs to reach us by the due date, not postmarked by the due date. Payments are due by June 1 for camps starting in June and June 15  for camps starting in July.

When will I receive my deposit refund?

Once all library and room charges are cleared, generally 4-6 weeks after the end of the LAST session of UTNIF.  Usually the middle of September.

My child will be commuting, where should I pick up and drop them off?

We recommend that parents drop students off and pick them up at the dorm each morning and evening.  This provides consistency for parents, avoids any difficulties with campus security (who may or may not allow you to drive nearer to the building your child’s class was held in), and also ensures that students have a safe place to wait, should their ride experience any unexpected delays due to traffic.  Students can always wait in the lounge of the dorm and come down stairs to meet their ride when they arrive.