Finances & Money

How much money will I need while I am abroad? This amount will vary depending on how long you are studying abroad, what country you are going to, and how much you plan to travel while you are abroad. We provide estimated budgets on top of the program cost for students to consider, but in the end that is up to you. Some things to consider when planning your budget are:

  • Will your entertainment cost increase or decrease?
  • Will you spend more on communication? People love to receive post cards (including us) so you may buy several stamps, or you might even mail a package home. What about phone calls home, or will you only rely on email?
  • Will personal items be more expensive where you are going?
  • Do you plan on traveling much? Where? How? For how long? Will you stay inexpensively in hostels or in 3+ star hotels?
  • If you participate on an international exchange program, will you stay in the campus residences or in an apartment you secure independently from the university? Note that detailed budgets are provided for students participating on exchange.

Exchange Rates vary, so it is important you investigate the value of the dollar where you are going. You can find up to date and historical information at www.xe.com.

How do I get money abroad? The exchange rates are generally better when you arrive in the foreign country, but it’s always a good idea to have a small amount of cash exchanged to local currency before you depart, to have on hand when you arrive in the country. We recommend you carry no more than $150 worth of local currency on you, at any time during your travels.

A variety of methods are available including ATMs, exchanging cash, credit cards, traveler’s checks or prepaid Visa/MasterCard cards – but don’t rely on just one way to access your funds while abroad. If you participate on an exchange program you might consider opening a bank account while you are there since you’ll be there for a long period of time. Some host institutions will require you to secure a local bank account if you are there for a certain length of time.

ATM/Credit Cards: It is imperative you inform your bank of your intended departure and travel plans, and discuss with them any fees or charges you will incur while accessing your account abroad. Your bank will have to make a note that you are traveling abroad, and to allow you to access your account from the countries you intend to visit.

It is a good idea to keep copies of your cards or write down that information in a separate and safe place. If your cards are misplaced or stolen, you will have access to the information on the front and back of your cards.

Travelers Checks seem to be used less frequently by our students these days, however they are still available. If you will be in a major city you won’t have a problem finding a bank that will exchange them, however smaller towns will not always have the means to accept travelers checks and exchange them to local currency. If they are lost or stolen you can almost always secure a full refund of your money, so long as you keep up with the check receipts and follow the instructions the bank gives you when you purchase the checks.

Exchanging cash or traveler’s checks: Try to always do this in a bank or foreign exchange shop – they will always give you the best rate. Restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, or shops are not required to give you the daily exchange rate and might charge high commissions.

How do I get money…and fast? If you find yourself in a bind, and need access to money quickly, there are providers like Western Union or Money Gram which allow international money transfers (and you don’t need a bank account in the foreign country to receive the cash). If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, make sure you communicate with your program director and/or the staff on-site in your country of study; they are there to assist you.