Finances Abroad

Program Deposit and Invoice

Within 14 days of acceptance to a SUNY Oswego OIEP program, you will need to submit a non-refundable program deposit in the amount of $250.00. The invoice you will receive after depositing will indicate the total amount due to SUNY Oswego’s OIEP, the due date, and how to submit the payment. Any questions related to the invoice should be addressed directly to your program coordinator.

Financial Aid

If you are a student who receives financial assistance at SUNY Oswego or at your home campus/university, set up a meeting with your Financial Aid Adviser as soon as you have decided to study abroad. You will want to discuss your finances and what, if any, aid will be available to you for the study abroad program you are pursuing. For the meeting, bring with you a copy of the budget sheet for your program, which can be found on the SUNY Oswego Education Abroad website

Make sure to address with your financial aid advisor the total cost of the program, amount due for tuition at your home school, the program differential amount due to SUNY Oswego’s Office of International Education and Programs (OIEP) and the amount you need to have to cover all other program expenses. The budget sheet created by SUNY Oswego is an estimated cost of the entire cost of the program.

If you plan to have financial aid applied to your cost of the program, please check with the financial aid office at your home campus to see how your financial aid will transfer to Oswego. You should complete the Financial Arrangements form (material #2 on your post-acceptance list) and return it OIEP. Your student accounts office may send it to Oswego on your behalf. Generally, financial aid transfers easily between SUNY campuses, paperwork is required to make this function correctly. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure your payment is submitted to SUNY Oswego’s OIEP through financial aid and/or yourself.

Students who are planning to finance all or part of their study abroad by financial aid should be aware that:

  1. The rules and regulations governing financial aid change frequently and the only accurate source of information about your financial aid package is the financial aid office at your home campus.

  2. A participant in a SUNY overseas academic program is usually eligible for the same aid package that they would be eligible for were they attending their home SUNY campus; with the exception of college work-study.

  3. The participant's home campus is the only school that can process that student's financial aid forms. The student must check with their home campus financial aid office for further details.

Budgeting While Abroad

Study abroad usually entails a drastic shift in the way you manage your money; you will be in charge of managing your own finances, potentially for the first time. You'll find yourself paying for daily expenses out of pocket with credit or cash.

Using Credit/Debit Cards

Many students use ATM cards to withdraw cash (in the local currency) from a ATM. Not all cards work in all machines so make sure that your ATM card (debit or credit) has the "Cirrus,” "Plus," and/or “NYCE” logo on the back and that the ATM you’re using has the matching logos. Some students have found it convenient to open an account at a major international bank that has branches overseas. Check with your bank before opening an account, in order to be sure that you will be able to access your account in the country where you'll be studying and what, if any, fees will occur by using your card overseas. Some banks in the US have affiliated partners overseas that you can use without incurring any fees.

Many students find that another convenient method of managing their finances while overseas is through the use of credit cards. We generally recommend at least having access to a credit card while abroad in case of emergencies. The acceptability of credit cards varies greatly from country to country; in order to find out which credit card is accepted in the country where you're planning to study, check with the card issuer. The card must be in the student’s name and not the parents’ as at times you may be asked for identification. Most stores and restaurants will accept major credit cards, though Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted. However, there are many small shops, outdoor markets, and small restaurants and bars that still accept cash only!

NOTE: You need to contact your bank and credit card company to inform them that you will be abroad and for how long. This will help keep your bank from deactivating your card. Also, have a back up plan in case you lose your card, it is hacked, etc.

Remember that credit cards can be as risky as they are convenient. Without a certain amount of discipline and budgeting, you might return from abroad with a staggering credit card debt. Do your best to come up with an expense and financial planning sheet to help you budget your expenses for the time you are overseas. One example of a financial planning resource is Mint. Credit cards are also easily stolen or hacked, so pay attention to your statements and look for unusual charges.

Carrying Cash

Just as you would in any unfamiliar setting here in the U.S., avoid carrying large amounts of cash with you. Also, when you do carry cash on your person, divide up the money into different pockets so that if you are pickpocketed, all of your money won’t be lost. This is a safeguard against theft.

We recommend that you have some US currency with you (about $100.00) for the airport and layovers and some host country currency (the equivalent of $150-200 USD) with you before your departure. Be aware that you may not be able to use damaged or marked US dollars overseas. You can request the host currency from your local bank prior to departure. They may need to order it from a larger branch, so request it plenty in advance!

Places to exchange currency:

  • Your local bank – must order in advance

  • Airports – you will be charged a commission

  • Any exchange booths throughout your host country

Other Forms of Money

MoneyGram / Western Union are two examples of companies that can be used to send money in the event of a need or an emergency overseas. Western Union is often used to have money sent from home in a very short amount of time (sometimes minutes); this can come in handy for emergencies. In most instances, Western Union will issue local currency at competitive foreign exchange rates. Western Union transactions can be made at many post offices, or you can look up locations on their websites.

Additionally, many companies are now offering pre-loaded credit cards. One example convenient for travel is Cash Passport. Cash Passport is an example of a prepaid travel money card which you can load travel money onto before you travel. Exchange rates are locked in when you load or reload the card, so you always know your budget when you're travelling. This balance will reflect the exchange rate at the time the card was purchased, and will not fluctuate (even when the exchange rate does). While the card may not eliminate ATM fees, you will not be charged international fees in stores, like some debit cards from local U.S banks do. There are a variety of other companies that also sell these cards and they are available online, at most airports, and other vendors like AAA.

You will want to plan your financial needs for study abroad carefully, in consultation with your family, your local bank, the Financial Aid office (if applicable), and OIEP staff. Keep the recommended funds on your budget sheet in mind and take into account the following details:

Before going abroad, put together a budget that includes:

  • Living expenses: housing and meals, if not included in the program cost

  • Academic expenses: tuition, books

  • Essential travel expenses: airfare, passport fees, visa fees, local transportation costs

  • Medical expenses: over the counter medicines, doctor visits, counseling sessions, etc.

  • Excursions: program-sponsored trips, local or regional

  • Entertainment: nightlife, eating out, concerts, games, etc.

  • Communication expenses: internet access, cell phone

  • Personal expenses: souvenirs, shopping, laundry, hair/hygiene products, sunscreen, etc.

  • Emergency funds

Don't spend all your money in one place! Your spending money will need to make it through the several months of your study abroad program. Although there are many exciting things to do and purchase while you are abroad, pace yourself. Devise a budget and stick to it as closely as you can to avoid any problems while you are abroad!

On your budget sheet for the program we estimated your personal expenses while abroad. This will be different for everyone though, depending on how much you shop, travel, etc. All students should count on public transportation expenses, some meals, textbooks, and personal leisure and travel activities. 

Other Tips For Budgeting

  • Give yourself a weekly allowance- determine how much money you want to spend each week. This will help you effectively track your spending. Consider using an online or written spending log.

  • Live within your means- while you’re abroad, some of your friends will have more spending money than you, and some will have less. Be sure to budget according to your finances, not anyone else’s. If your budget doesn’t allow you to make trips outside of your host city, that’s ok! Immerse yourself in the local culture and explore the various aspects of your city. There are many hidden gems to discover in your local area that often are overlooked to more "touristy" destinations.

  • Take advantage of student discounts. Similar to the United States, you can find special discounts for students in your host country. Ask your Resident Director or locals about known student discounts.

  • Make a quick cheat sheet of common amounts of money ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, etc.) and their equivalent in your host country currency. This may be easier to assist you when making purchases and getting used to the new exchange rate.

Questions to Ask

Prior to departure you should make sure all of your financial questions are answered. Some questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Do I want to carry cash, pre-loaded cards, or use credit/debit cards?

  • What is the foreign transaction fee for my debit and credit cards?

  • What is the exchange rate of my host country?

  • Is there someone from my school who is from, or has been to, my host country and can talk to me about budgets?

  • What is my plan if I run out of money?

  • What banking facilities exist in the country? 

  • Is it possible to open a bank account in my host country?

  • Where can I find a budget sheet for the program?

  • What will I do if I lose my credit card/wallet/cash? 

  • Do I have an emergency fund for lost items (laptop, passport, etc.) or medical emergencies?