It is important that you understand the financial aspects of your Learning Abroad Program. We recognize that this can be intimidating, but we are here to help! As a way of providing support to Programs, Learning Abroad is very involved in the financial process. Never hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns!
It is not appropriate to discuss the budget in detail with students, parents, or external entities. Information about what is and is not included in the Program is available to the public in the Budget Sheets. If you have inquiries about budget details, please consult our staff before responding. We are happy to assist you in developing talking points for these conversations or serve as facilitators in this dialogue. Please note that tax deductible Learning Abroad expenses are automatically reflected on the 1098-T form provided to students by the University.
Creating a Budget & Minimum Enrollments
Learning Abroad does not coordinate finances or provide budget support for TATE Programs. The University provides limited financial support for TATE Programs. Aside from the application and insurance fees, it is the student’s responsibility to create a Program budget, negotiate onsite costs, and facilitate all payments associated with their Programs. Departments are expected to assist students in creating a Program budget and setting realistic financial expectations for their Program.
For Faculty-led Programs, budgets are developed through a collaborative effort between Learning Abroad and the Faculty Director. Each budget is unique, but there are some line items included in every budget. Learning Abroad provides Budget Sheets for all Faculty-led Programs in the Program Search. This transparently presents estimated costs to students, facilitates the Financial Aid process, and allows students to plan for their experience. Budget Sheets reflect the previous year’s program cost and serve only an ESTIMATE until the final costs are posted online. Although not anticipated, program costs may change due to fluctuation in currency exchange rates, tuition increases, contracted agencies, or number of participants.
Pricing will vary depending on Program location, facilitator to student ratio, structure, and other circumstances. For this reason, Learning Abroad and the Faculty Director work closely together to keep the overall cost of each Program as low as possible. When developing a budget, Faculty Directors should have the following information:
- Onsite costs including housing, transportation, excursion costs, etc.
- Onsite instruction costs for courses taught by non-U of U faculty (if applicable)
- Airfare estimates
- Program dates / duration
An important element of budget development is the minimum enrollment requirement. These requirements are intended to control Billable Program Costs for students, ensure that programs are sustainable, and promote good stewardship in Program budgets. The University has established the following minimum enrollments for all programs.
Minimum Budgeted Students per Program
Minimum Committed Students per Program
As a reminder, 10% of committed applicants ultimately withdraw from their Program before departure. For this reason, the budgeted student requirement is lower than the committed student requirement. This protects the University from deficits created by student withdrawals and allows Faculty Directors to move forward with Program planning.
We also recognize that new Programs may struggle to meet these requirements. To help new Programs get started and grow over time, the following requirements will be used during the first 3 years of Program operation:
Minimum Budgeted Students per Program
Minimum Committed Students per Program
The minimum enrollment requirements are based on research and best practices. At many peer institutions, the average minimum program enrollment is 16 students. The U’s lower enrollment requirements provide flexibility for faculty and academic departments.
The Budgets Sheets that are posted on the Learning Abroad website are divided into two categories: Billable Costs and Non-Billable Costs. These categories also form the basic structure of program budgets. Combined, billable and non-billable costs provide students with an estimate of the total cost of participation.
- Billable Costs, (noted with an * in the Budget Sheet) are paid directly to the University of Utah by the student. Billable costs for Faculty-led Programs typically include:
- Payment to foreign institution for teaching services (if applicable)
- Learning Abroad Administration Fee
- Lodging for students (dorm, home-stay, apartment, etc.)
- In-country transportation costs
- Payment to host institution or other third party for excursions and field trips
- Faculty Directors and Program Assistant expenses (airfare, housing, and per diem, if applicable)
- Departmental compensation (including Program Assistant compensation if applicable)
- Student credit hour fees / tuition
- Shared Services (Costs that are divided evenly among the students but remain the same regardless of the number of participants. An example would be the cost of bus rental for an excursion.)
- Financial transaction and audit fees
- Non-billable Costs are paid by the student to other entities. Examples of non-billable costs include immunizations, passport or visa costs, books, and flights.
The Billable and Non-billable Costs are determined by Learning Abroad and the Faculty Director with the approval of the Director for Learning Abroad. Several factors are considered in determining the billable and non-billable program costs. These include, but are not limited to:
- Number of Committed Applicants- The billable program cost is based on the number of committed applications in Terra Dotta at the time in which budgets are finalized.
- Withdrawals- Typically 8-10% of committed applicants withdraw from the Program before departure.
- Exchange Rates- Fluctuation in rates impacts the billable and non-billable cost of the Program.
Setting Exchange Rates
As part of the budgeting process for your program, the University will set the exchange rate. This ensures that all Programs within a given currency are paying equal rates for service. Exchange rates are determined through a collaborative process with Learning Abroad, the Office for Global Engagement, and University Financial & Business Services. The University uses a conservative exchange rate when calculating Billable and Non-billable Costs. This protects the University from deficits caused by unforeseen exchange rate fluctuations
Per diem is available to help defray living expenses for Faculty Directors leading Learning Abroad Programs. Per diem is paid in lieu of reimbursements for actual expenses and eliminates the need to keep receipts for every personal transaction. It is intended to cover expenses as meals, laundry and dry cleaning, fees, tips, faxes, telegrams, and personal telephone calls. If you are submitting receipts for group dinners that include yourself, you cannot collect per diem plus be reimbursed for the group meal.
Per diem is only available for faculty and staff officially working on the Program. Spouses or dependents traveling with you who are not officially employed by the Program are not eligible for this funding. Per diem must be factored into the program budget. Keep in mind that the cost of per diem is passed directly on to your students, and that setting a high per diem rate could jeopardize your program as the cost to students increases. The University uses the U.S. Department of State rates as maximum rate for per diem, but these rates are designed for individuals participating in diplomatic activities and traveling Heads of State. For that reason, most faculty directors agree to lower per diem rates to make their program more affordable for students. When you develop your budget, we will make a recommendation for your per diem rate based on our experience with program travel and your destination. Additional information about making personal travel arrangements is available in this guide.
All Learning Abroad Program funds are considered state funds. According to University Rule 3-100E: Restricted Purchases and Special Procurement, alcoholic beverages may not be purchased with these funds. You will not be reimbursed by the University for any alcohol purchased while abroad.
Timelines for Creating Budgets
There is no specific timeline for TATE Program budgets. However, the U has very specific timelines for creating Faculty-led Program budgets. We will contact you several months in advance to develop your budget. Timelines are based on the Program application deadline and the Withdrawal &Dismissal Penalty Policy. Budget timelines and withdrawal penalties are determined by Learning Abroad. You will need to finalize your Program price at least 14 days before the 50% financial penalty kicks in. Learning Abroad will update the online Budget Sheet and provide a final billing statement to committed students based on the final budget.
Departments have the option of subsidizing Learning Abroad Programs. Subsidies are divided among all students participating in the Program or can used to offset a shared program cost. Subsidies cannot be directed to a specific student. To include a subsidy in your Program budget, please provide Learning Abroad with a written statement from your department verifying the amount of funding for the subsidy. The subsidy amount will be requested by Learning Abroad before departure and can be sent via Journal Entry or campus order.
Some departments also choose to provide scholarships for students learning abroad. Learning Abroad does not disburse other department’s funds. Scholarships need to be coordinated and disbursed through the University Scholarships Office. Additionally, Program funds cannot be given to a student as a scholarship. For information about the available Office for Global Engagement Scholarships, see the information on our website.
The University has specific policies governing honoraria. An honorarium is defined as a payment made on a special and non-routine basis to an individual who is not an employee of the University. The payment recognizes outstanding achievement, demonstrates respect or esteem for the individual's status or position, or acknowledges the contribution of gratuitous services to the University. Honoraria must meet University requirements, be included in your program budget, and go through the appropriate processes for procurement and taxation. Details on these requirements and procedures can be found here. Honoraria do not include prizes and awards to University personnel (e.g., distinguished teaching or research awards, etc.).
Learning Abroad Administration Fees
Every student is required to pay an administration fee to Learning Abroad. This fee is used to support Learning Abroad operations and campus internationalization. The fee also supports pre-departure, marketing, and re-entry programming for students. The Learning Abroad Administration Fee is non-refundable once a student has committed to a Program through the Learning Abroad Program Application. Administration fees are as follows:
- U of U Exchanges, Affiliates and Faculty Directed Programs: $500
- Global Health Programs: $400
- Temporary Academic Travel Enrollment (TATE): $200
The Learning Abroad Administration Fee is incorporated into the billable program costs on the Program Budget Sheet.
Student Credit Hour Fee (SCH)
In an effort to increase the number of U of U students participating in Learning Abroad Programs each year, the University offers reduced tuition for Faculty-led Learning Abroad Programs. In lieu of regular tuition, students participating in Faculty-led Programs pay a reduced Student Credit Hour Fee (SCH). Students pay $45 per credit hour for undergraduate courses and $60 per credit hour for graduate courses. This revenue is charged to students’ University of Utah Tuition Accounts when they enroll in the Program courses. In addition to the reduced SCH fee paid by students, Central Administration contributes an additional $25 per credit hour per student to departments sponsoring Faculty-led Programs. After the tuition due date, these funds are combined and transferred to the academic department through the University’s regular SCH distribution system. Students participating in TATE Programs are not eligible for the tuition discount.
To calculate the amount of SCH a department can anticipate, consider the following example. If a program offers a 3 credit hour undergraduate course, and 25 students enroll in this course, the calculation of departmental revenue would be as follows:
|Learning Abroad SCH Fees||3 credit hours x $45 x 25 students||
|Central Administration Contribution||3 credit hours x $25 x 25 students||$1875|
|Total Departmental Revenue||$5250|
SCH is sent to the department granting the academic credit that students earn on the Program.
Please recognize that, due to withdrawals and course adds/drops, we are unable to provide an estimate of how much SCH a department should expect to receive in advance. SCH is listed as a billable cost in the Program Budget Sheet.
Learning Abroad does not directly compensate Faculty, Instructors, Program Assistants, or administrators for efforts related to Learning Abroad Programs. However, individuals supporting Faculty-led or Global Internship Programs may be eligible for financial incentives through Departmental Compensation. Departmental compensation supports the teaching and administrative efforts put toward the Program and is incorporated into the Program budget.
Every committed student participating in a Faculty-led Program is charged $250 in departmental compensation. The departmental compensation for Global Internship Programs is $150 per committed student. TATE Programs are not eligible for Departmental Compensation. For example, if there were 10 students in your Faculty-led Program, the amount of departmental compensation would be calculated as follows:
10 Enrolled Students x $250 per student = $2500 in Departmental Compensation
Departmental compensation is sent to the Faculty Director’s home department 1-3 months after the Program is completed. If a program has more than one Faculty Director, the departmental compensation will be divided evenly among the home departments of the Faculty Directors. In most cases, departments choose to use these funds to compensate individuals for their efforts in supporting the Program. However, Learning Abroad does not determine if departmental compensation is used to compensate you for your efforts. It is your responsibility to negotiate with the Faculty Director’s home department(s) regarding the use of these funds.
Departmental compensation is calculated based on the number of committed students, not the number of Faculty Directors, Instructors, Program Assistants, or administrators. So requesting support from other individuals such as a Program Assistant, Instructor, or administrator will reduce the amount of Departmental Compensation available for Faculty Directors. Additionally, directing a Learning Abroad Program may or may not be considered part of a faculty member’s regular teaching load. We encourage faculty to meet with their department chair to determine whether or not these activities are "on load" or "off load."
IRS regulations consider Faculty Directors, Instructors, Program Assistants, and administrators to be employees of the University. As such, these individuals should work with their departments to ensure that an ePAF is completed and tax documentation is collected for any compensation received. Per diem and travel expenses are not considered taxable compensation.
As you develop your program budget, please remember the following:
- Departmental compensation and SCH are not necessarily sent to the same department. For instance, if the Faculty Director is from the Anthropology Department but academic credit for the program is through the Communication Department, the SCH would go to the Communication Department and the departmental compensation would go to the Anthropology Department.
- A department or college may choose to identify other mechanisms for supporting Faculty Directors, Instructors, and Program Assistants for their contributions to Learning Abroad Programs.
- Departmental compensation and SCH are only available if the Program runs. If the Program is cancelled for any reason, there will be no resources with which to compensate departments or provide SCH.
Despite our best efforts, occasionally we must cancel a Learning Abroad Program due to low enrollment or other factors. It is often tempting to delay in cancelling a Program. We know that the cancellation will be disappointing to students and faculty alike. However, experience has taught us the following lessons about Program cancellations.
- Trying to recruit additional students after the deadline in order to make a Program financially viable is often ineffective. Applications are typically open for programs 6-9 months before the deadline. If we are unable to generate enough interest during that timeframe, we are unlikely to do so in a few weeks after the deadline. Additionally, 30% of late applicants ultimately withdraw from the Program before departure. For that reason, relying on late applicants to balance a Program budget is extremely tenuous.
- Learning Abroad cannot subsidize Programs. Programs must be financially solvent to operate. When a Program is under-enrolled, we are required to increase the per student cost to cover operational expenses. When the price is increased, students often withdraw due to unexpected expenses.
- In order to give students the option to enroll in an alternative Program, it is prudent to notify them of the cancellation early. If we stall in making a decision, students may not be able to switch to another Program and may ultimately miss out on their opportunity to learn abroad.
The enrollment of all Programs is reviewed within 2 business days of the application deadline. At that point, the Director for Learning Abroad will determine if the Program is solvent. If the Program is severely under-enrolled or would require a significant price increase to students, the Program will be cancelled in consultation with the Faculty Director.
Learning Abroad Withdrawal & Dismissal Penalty Policy
The University has a very transparent Withdrawal &Dismissal Penalty Policy for Learning Abroad Programs. In our online applications, all students agree to our financial policies including, but not limited to withdrawal & dismissal penalties and late fee policies. Students are also provided with links to these policies in online orientation and on Program Budget Sheets. These policies are strictly enforced.
If a student contacts you and requests to withdraw from the Program, refer the student to your Learning Abroad Coordinator. Our staff will provide the student with the appropriate action steps. NOTIFYING A FACULTY DIRECTOR IS NOT SUFFICIENT TO WITHDRAW FROM A PROGRAM. Students must take action in their online Program Application to withdraw. Until the student completes the necessary steps, they will continue to incur withdrawal & dismissal penalties.
Paying Bills before Departure
Students participating in TATE Programs are responsible for coordinating all payments associated with their Program. However, Learning Abroad provides assists faculty making payments for Faculty-led Programs. Typically, the more expenses that we can pay in advance, the less funding you will have to manage onsite. This allows you to focus on the academic and cultural experiences of your students while abroad.
Arrange to have any invoices for Program-related expenses sent to your Learning Abroad Budget Officer prior to departure. We will arrange for wire transfers, credit card payments, or checks. Be aware that we must have an itemized invoice to make advance payments. We recommend that you keep copies of these payments so that you have a record of any advance payments when you arrive onsite.
Travel Authorization and Advances
Before departure, you will meet with our staff to calculate a travel advance. This is typically completed 4 weeks before departure. Learning Abroad will coordinate your cash advance with the University Travel Office. Faculty Directors are eligible for a cash advance after they have completed the Facilitator Application in Terra Dotta.
Be aware that there are restrictions on how much cash can be carried into a foreign country. Many countries require travelers to pay taxes if they are entering a country with an excess of $10,000 in cash. Keep this in mind as you determine how different expenses will be paid for your Program.
Faculty Directors, Instructors, and Program Assistants are responsible for managing Program funds. All expenditures (except emergencies) must be accounted for in the Program budget before departure. Any revisions made after arrival should be approved by the Director for Learning Abroad. Be aware that funds spent without prior authorization may not be eligible for reimbursement.
Some programs provide cash disbursements to students for specific program purposes. An example of a cash disbursement is a meal stipend. Cash disbursements must be factored into the Program budget and approved before departure. Extra documentation is needed for cash disbursements. Students must sign a log or document listing the date, time, amount of funds received, student name, student ID number, and the activity or purpose. This log can be returned to Learning Abroad with your Program receipts.
Occasionally, there is a surplus of funds at the end of the Program. Learning Abroad refers to these funds as residuals. The University uses residual funds to offset operational costs; which ultimately prevents an increase in the Learning Abroad Administrative Fee.
If there are surplus funds at the end of your Program, this money cannot be refunded to the students and must be returned to the University. There are several reasons for this policy:
- Refunds can create a negative dynamic onsite. When there is a possibility of receiving a refund, students often “track” Program spending onsite. This means that Faculty Directors are asked to defend Program expenses while the group is abroad. This creates divisions within the group and unnecessary conflict for Faculty Directors.
- It sets a long-term precedent among students. Returned students often talk to interested students about the Program. If returned students indicate that they received a refund, future students will expect refunds as well.
- Refunds can negatively impact student financial aid. When we issue a refund to a student, it decreases the cost of attendance. When this happens, students may be required to return financial aid money to the University.
- Refunds may impact scholarship eligibility. If the cost of attendance decreases, it negatively impacts a student’s eligibility for need-based scholarships.
- Money paid to the University is state funding. As a state institution, any funds paid to the University become state funds. State funds are subject to a variety of laws and regulations. Providing refunds to students may violate state law and make Faculty Directors vulnerable to disciplinary or legal action.
If your Program has residual funding, contact our finance staff to inquire about preferred ways of using those funds.
Receipts and Reconciliation
Faculty Directors and Program Assistants should keep detailed records of itemized expenses and collect receipts for reimbursement purposes. To reconcile your budget, make an appointment to meet with our staff. Receipts must be submitted for all Program expenses except per diem purchases (personal meals, tips, and incidentals). This includes housing, transportation, exchange rates, and entrance fees.
For most expenses, you will be able to obtain a receipt. Learning Abroad provides each Faculty Director and Program Assistant with a receipt book for instances in which it is difficult to obtain a receipt. We also recommend keeping a log or spreadsheet with the following information for each transaction:
- The date that the expense was incurred
- The activity or purpose
- The recipient of the funds
- The amount of the expense
- The method of payment
The spreadsheet can be submitted with your receipts to Learning Abroad. In order to reconcile your budget, you also need documentation verifying the exchange rate that you receive when you exchange your travel advance funds for foreign currency. If your program has multiple currencies, you will need documentation for each currency. If no documentation is available, Learning Abroad will use the rate published on www.oanda.com for the day on which a purchase was made. This rate may or may not be as competitive as the rate you received in the host country. There are two ways to provide documentation for exchange rates:
- ATM withdrawals and cash currency exchanges- When you exchange your travel advance funds for foreign currency, request a receipt verifying the exchange rate that you receive. This can be a receipt from an ATM or a print-out from the bank.
- Credit or debit card transactions- Your monthly statement will verify the exchange rate. Please provide a copy of your statement when you submit the Program receipts.
For more information on University policies regarding travel receipts, review the information on the Travel Office website. University policy requires anyone handling Program funds to submit receipts for reconciliation within 14 days after the Program ends. If the budget is not reconciled within that timeframe, you will begin receiving messages from the University Travel Office. If the budget is not reconciled within 30 days after the Program ends, the University has the right to garnish your wages.
For TATE Programs, Learning Abroad will manage Billable Costs published on our Budget Sheets. Any additional funds that you collect from students for their participation in a TATE Program should be reconciled through your home department.
Accessing Program Funds while Abroad
In order to avoid loss or theft, do not carry large amounts of cash with you. Most banks abroad will not cash a U.S. check. Do not deposit funds into your U.S. account and expect to cash a check onsite to access your Program funds. Cashing a check abroad can take several weeks, leaving you without access to your Program funds.
We recommend that you carry your funds in a variety of forms (ATM, credit cards and local currency).
- Cash- In some locations, particularly developing countries, U.S. dollars may be the most readily acceptable form of payment; however, theft becomes a greater risk when you have large sums of cash. If you are interested in having local currency before departure, check with your bank. Some currencies may readily available, but others will need to be ordered. Contact your bank for more details.
- Travelers Checks- We do not recommend the use of travelers’ checks! They are often difficult, if not impossible, to cash.
- ATMs- Most Program leaders utilize ATMs on site. ATMs can provide ready access to local currency and are drawn from your own account. There are limitations to using ATMs. Most ATMs have a daily withdrawal limit, and you may need to withdraw large sums to cover Program expenses. Before departure, ask your bank to increase your daily withdrawal limit. Be sure to ask about any restrictions on the increased limit. For instance, you may only be able to access these funds during US banking hours. Also, check with your bank about service fees and accessibility.
- Credit Cards- Credit cards are a convenient way to cover expenses, and usually offer favorable exchange rates. Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted abroad; Discover and American Express are more problematic.
Whatever method you use, contact your bank or credit card company to ensure that you will have access to funds.
Dealing with Student Financial Crises
Occasionally student experience financial emergencies during their Programs. DO NOT loan students Program or personal funds unless it is an extreme emergency. If you have a student experiencing problems, consider the following solutions first:
- Have family deposit funds into the student’s account so that the student can access the funds through an ATM
- Have family send a foreign draft by express mail
- Arrange for someone to send a bank wire or transfer
- Have family send a transfer through American Express or Western Union
- Contact the student’s credit card company for support (many provide emergency cash advances and card replacement)
- Contact the U’s Global Risk Manager to see if our insurance policy can provide emergency funds
- Contact the S. Embassy’s Consular Affairs Officer. They may have resources or loan options that can help the student.