If you don't already have a valid passport you should apply for one as soon as you decide to study abroad. This process can take 4-6 weeks, depending on the time of year when you apply, so don't delay.
When applying for a passport for the first time you have to submit your application in person. Everything you need to know about U.S. passports (how to apply, how to get a rushed passport, how to renew your passport) is on the following website:http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
Passport photos are a style of photograph with specifications regarding the size of the photo, what sort of head and facial clothing is permitted, a particular background color, and other specifications. Do not try to take or print passport photos yourself, as the regulations regarding these photos are specific and strict. There are many places where you can get passport photos: Walgreens, CVS, post offices, etc.
You should anticipate spending around $160 for the passport, photos, and processing fees.
If you have been accepted into an NWTC study abroad program, send a scanned color copy of the passport page that includes your photo and details to Lacy Frewerd via email (email@example.com) ASAP. The NWTC Library has color scanners that can send the scanned copy via email. Just ask a Librarian if you are unsure how to use the scanners.