Program Costs and Billing
Students on Skidmore programs will be charged a program fee comparable to the Skidmore comprehensive fee. The fee will cover tuition abroad, room and board, on-site support and services, a local transportation pass (where applicable), program excursions, a cultural reimbursement program (where applicable), and international medical insurance. You will be billed by Skidmore's Bursar's Office directly.
Students participating on an approved program abroad will be billed directly by Skidmore. Students will be charged the Skidmore Comprehensive fee for their academic year or semester abroad. This fee is equal to tuition, room at the apartment rate, and full board. Skidmore will handle payment to program providers on behalf of the students. Skidmore will cover tuition and mandatory academic fees, room and board, medical insurance, and any other mandatory program fees. Students are responsible for any refundable fees, airfare, books, and personal expenses. Students will be billed directly by Skidmore's Bursar's Office. Students on the Washington Semester programs will be billed by Skidmore's Bursar for tuition and fees. The host campus will bill for room and board. Students studying on the Spelman College program pay tution, room, and board fees to Skidmore. Any billing questions should be directed to the Office of Off-Campus Study & Exchanges.
Skidmore students participating on Skidmore and non-Skidmore Approved Programs may use their financial aid to offset the costs of the program. If you currently receive financial aid, you should make an appointment with the Office of Financial Aid to review the use of your financial aid package. You should do this as soon as possible after acceptance to your chosen study abroad program.
Students are encouraged to pursue external scholarship opportunities to help fund their off-campus study. Although scholarships for off-campus study are limited, there are a number of scholarships available for students through national scholarship funds, program providers, and local and community organizations. OCSE maintains a list of external scholarship opportunities for students to consider, including national scholarships, scholarships provided by the Skidmore approved program providers, and additional resources to search for scholarships. Please check with the OCSE for details. If you are a non-Skidmore student participating on a Skidmore program abroad, please check with your home campus for details regarding financial aid.
Money Management Overseas
One of the most frequently asked questions is, "How do I handle my money once I'm abroad?" There are many answers to that question. The best way to handle money varies depending upon your program site and your preferences. However, there are some general rules to keep in mind when planning for expenses. We strongly encourage you to discuss your budget and money management with your parents or guardians before you depart. It is important to understand how these matters will be handled and to have a support person at home to assist you in case of an emergency.
- Foreign Currency
Although it seems obvious, please remember you will be dealing with a foreign currency while abroad. This money will look odd and seem like Monopoly money for a while. But it is real. Some countries deal mainly in coins rather than paper currency. Once you arrive abroad you may be tempted to exchange all of your U.S. money into the local currency and then start to spend. Please wait! It will take you a few weeks to really figure out how the exchange rate works and what things are really worth. Students can find themselves broke after only a month or two because they didn't understand how the new currency really works. Whatever you "need" to buy will be available within a few weeks after your arrival. Take the time to get to know the currency and city before you spend all your cash.
- Traveler's Checks & Cash
If possible, do not travel with a lot of cash. Cash is impossible to replace if lost or stolen. If you must travel with a lot of money, make sure it is in the form of traveler's checks. Traveler's checks are the safest form of money you can use since they are insured and can be replaced if lost or stolen. Always keep a list of the serial numbers for your checks and record the check numbers as you spend them. (Keep this record separate from your actual checks and leave a copy with someone at home.) This will make it easier to replace them if necessary.
Although you can obtain traveler's checks in other currencies, we recommend only carrying traveler's checks in U.S. dollars. You must purchase them yourself in the U.S. as you will be the only person allowed to sign them once abroad. They can be cashed at most foreign banks or currency exchange centers for a small fee. Unlike in the U.S., traveler's checks cannot be used to make purchases in stores in most countries.
While you should not carry a lot of cash, you should exchange a small amount of U.S. dollars into the local currency of your country of destination before you depart, enough local currency to cover the first few days in your new country. Your program sponsor should be able to give you an idea of how much local currency to bring. With advance notice, currency can be exchanged at some of the larger banks in Saratoga Springs and Albany. Be aware that you will be charged a fee for the service. (If you are going to a lesser-traveled country, you may not be able to obtain currency until your arrival.) Currency can also be exchanged at the airport prior to your departure. It is also a good idea to keep a small amount of U.S. dollars ($50) for your return trip. Again, this will cover expenses when you return home.
The ATM machine has greatly facilitated money transactions abroad. Most countries now offer this service on a wide scale basis. However, be sure to check with your program provider before planning to use ATMs as your sole means of obtaining money. Also check with your own bank to be sure you understand any fees or surcharges applicable to international use of your ATM card. These charges can be steep and may determine how you budget your money.
If ATM machines are widely available where you will be studying, ensure that your bank card has international withdrawal privileges. You may also want to considering adding a family member to your account for the time you will be abroad. This way, if you need additional funds, or have any issues with your account while you are away, your family member can access your account and facilitate a solution. Be sure that you know your numerical PIN. Some machines don't have the alphabet written above the numbers that makes it very difficult to punch in your code.
- Credit cards are another source of money which are widely accepted throughout the world. As in
the U.S., credits cards can be used in shops, restaurants, and hotels. If you do decide
to use a credit card on your trip, Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted
names. American Express is accepted in some countries but is less widely used.
Many countries around the world, particularly in Europe, have been transitioning to chip and PIN technology in their credit and debit cards. Chip and PIN technology is a new, more secure way of paying with credit or debit cards. The card has a computer chip embedded into it and it also has a PIN (personal identification number). In countries with Chip and PIN technology, credit cards are no longer “swiped” on a magnetic strip as is done in the USA. Instead, the card goes through or is inserted into a chip reader and the cardholder must enter his or her PIN to complete the sale. American debit/credit cards should still work in ATMs in other countries regardless of chip-and-pin technology, but you may have to request for your card to be swiped instead of using a Chip and PIN reader. Keep in mind that some restaurants and stores may only take cards on the Chip and PIN system, so you should always have cash on hand. Unmanned payment kiosks (typically found in train stations) usually require cards with the Chip and PIN technology. Some US banks and credit card companies are now offering cards with the Chip and PIN technology. Check with your bank and/or credit card company for more information.Credit cards can also be used for cash advances in case of an emergency. We do not, however, recommend that you use them for this purpose unless it is truly an emergency! Cash advances carry very high fees and interest charges, which, if not paid immediately, add up to huge expenses. It is a good idea to check with your credit card company for details before you depart. Remember to leave your credit card numbers with someone at home in case they are stolen or lost while you are abroad.
- Other Options
If you will be in a country without good ATM and credit card access, there are other options for your money. As mentioned, traveler's checks are commonly accepted in most countries. If funds become tight and you need emergency cash, money can be sent as a bank draft in the foreign currency. This costs about $25 and takes at least one week. It can also be wired directly to a foreign bank via telex, which costs about $30 and takes from 1 to 5 days. Funds can also be transferred via American Express or Western Union. It is a good idea to have your parents or guardian look into this before you depart so that you have an emergency plan in place. In a true emergency, the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate can assist you.
Power of Attorney
You may want to consider obtaining a Power of Attorney for financial matters that will allow another individual (preferably your parent or guardian) to sign on your behalf. You may restrict signatory authority to only being able to endorse checks or expand it to include permission to take care of all your financial matters while you are out of the country. The choice is yours. However, by all means do not have your family or friends mail checks or other important paperwork to you abroad to be signed. You take great risk at having the check lost in the mail.
The amount of money you need to budget for your stay abroad includes more than your program fee. It is important to understand the total out-of-pocket expenses you will incur so that you can budget appropriately. Otherwise you could end up running out of money before the semester/year concludes. The organization sponsoring your program should be able to provide you with a detailed estimate of all costs you will be expected to cover while abroad. You should discuss this information with your parents or guardian in order to establish a realistic budget. Be sure to include expenses such as airfare, daily transportation, visa and passport fees, books and instructional materials, extra meals, entertainment, laundry, travel during breaks, etc. Some of these expenses may be covered by the program, some may not. Again, check with the program provider for details. Before you leave, talk with students who have already returned from the same program to learn more about realistic budgeting. (Your program sponsor can provide you with the name of program alumni.) Remember that Skidmore will cover costs for all required academic fees, and may cover room and a meal costs. If your program does not provide a meal plan, Skidmore will not charge you the meal plan fee. Instead you will be responsible for covering those costs on site. Budget appropriately.
- Budget Worksheet
Students often are concerned about the "hidden" costs of study abroad. This Budget Worksheet is designed to assist you in thinking about all the possible expenditures that can come up prior to and during your study abroad program. Not all categories will apply for every student. Spend some time working on this yourself and share it with your parents.
The International Student Identity Card
Students should consider purchasing an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) for their travels abroad. The ISIC is recognized throughout the world as a verification of student status. In many countries, student status will provide discounts on airfare, travel insurance, emergency travel assistance, theaters, museums and more. The ISIC is most useful for receiving discounts in Western Europe. However, it can also be used in the United States to obtain special-rate student airfares.
Students opting to not purchase the card should carry their Skidmore ID card. Many establishments and/or vendors will provide student discounts once proof of status is provided.