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Financial Management

Study abroad budgeting can be a time-consuming, meticulous task because there are so many considerations involved and minor errors can be very costly. It is crucial that you develop your budget early during the course and program proposal process.

Budget Goals:

  • build your budget with sufficient funds to support quality academic programs;
  • keep costs affordable for students without sacrificing academic quality;
  • be thoughtful stewards of student funds and allocate resources efficiently;
  • ensure that all bills are paid in a timely manner and that proper documentation is obtained to allow for reimbursement.

Be mindful that your budget must include:

  • The cost of Virginia Tech’s mandated insurance for each participant (student and faculty). Coverage costs of the travel medical and emergency insurance through CISI is $9.40 per week until 1 month is reached for which insurance cost are then billed at a monthly rate of $35.80. Note: The travel medical and emergency insurance through CISI does NOT include trip cancellation or interruption insurance nor personal property protection. It's highly advised that program leaders purchase program-level trip protection insurance at the time of making any vendor payment.

  • Telecommunications for the program leadership to be able to reach Virginia Tech, emergency services, providers and travel agents in-country in addition to program participants.

  • An overall 10% contingency for unplanned or unexpected costs. If you encounter unexpected costs while abroad, funds must come from the department or college sponsoring the program.

Please Note: The best practice recommendation by the Global Education Approval Committee is that the faculty program leader's per diem rate for study abroad not to exceed 50% of the GSA published rate for the location of travel. Unlike business travel, study abroad travel is paid for by student funds. As a stewardship practice for student agency funds, faculty expenses should align with student costs for the program. Programs presenting more than 50% of the location's per diem rate should provide a stewardship justification in the GEAC proposal.

Calculate fixed versus variable costs.

Program expenses can be defined as either fixed or variable. Fixed costs do not change based on the number of participants – for example, classroom rental costs. Variable costs are dependent on the number of participants – for example, cost of train tickets per person. It is important to be aware of which operational costs are fixed and which are variable, because the fixed costs determine the minimum funding necessary to run the program, and will thus determine the number of participants. Generally, the larger the group, the less the cost of the program will be for each individual participant.

Decide what the program will cover and what students will provide with their own additional funds.

Typical program expenses may include, but are not limited to:

  • Honoraria to lecturers, guides
  • Classroom rental
  • Ground transportation costs
  • Guides at museums and sites
  • Admission costs at museums and sites
  • Tips to drivers, guides and for meals
  • Student housing
  • Student meals
  • Airfare
  • Faculty housing
  • Faculty meals
  • Faculty participation in program activities
  • Local cell phone and telecommunication costs for faculty
  • CISI travel medical and security assistance insurance


Anticipate all possible expenditures. Determine the minimum and maximum group size and set the per-student program cost. 

The program fee amount equals the total that students are billed through the Bursar for program-related expenses. Excluded from the fee can be items such as airfare, visa, certain meals, personal expenses, etc. It should be clearly defined as to which expenses are included in the program fee billed through the Bursar and which expenses are to excluded and become the onus of the student. It is best to include in the program cost any function for which attendance is required.

Plan for contingencies and err on the high side.

Look into program-level trip protection insurance at the time prior to making vendor payment. Include contingency costs in the program budget. Review cancellation penalties and stipulations detailed in the vendor contract.

Continue to monitor exchange rate fluctuations.

Update your budget as new information becomes available. An electronic currency converter can be helpful.

Review salaries and stipends with departmental leadership.

Each college maintains a different procedure for compensation related to study abroad. This should be clarified early with the department head.

Receive approval.

All program budgets must be submitted for approval with the Global Education Approval Committee. The GEO offers guidance and support in the budgeting process.

GEO Sample Budget Template 2019-20.xls The GEAC budget template is to be used when submitting a budget to the Global Education Approval Committee for study abroad program approval.

Tuition and fees are billed separately by the University Bursar: However, departments are responsible for billing student accounts for the program fee established by the program's budget in addition to fund and expense management.

  • The study abroad local fund request is  embedded in the GEAC proposal process. Once the proposal is reviewed and approved,  the General Accounting Section of the Controller’s Office will set up the new fund and notify all the contacts listed on the form that the new account has been established. 
  • Once the local fund is established, submit the Request for Detail Code Form to Gena Simmons, Office of the University Bursar.
  • Establish a payment timeline. Set deposit and payment installment deadlines. Remember: Billing must following the university billing cycle (charge placed by the 10th, payment due the 10th of the following month). Coordinate with your department/college fiscal support to place charges student accounts via Banner.
  • Provide students with payment instructions and deadlines. See here for sample instructions to e-mail students.
  • Monitor student program fee payments. 
  • Advanced pay to a study abroad vendor falls under Direct Pay: Policy 3220.  For prepayment of expenses, international vendors must first be established in HokieMart through submission of a W-8BEN-E form. Domestic vendors not currently in the HokieMart system must submit the W-9 Vendor Registration form. Both processes can take several months processing time so plan accordingly. Before you are able to remit payment in advance for an invoice through HokieMart, as a best business practice, a Customized Program Agreement with the vendor is required. Agreements must be reviewed and approved by Tracey Gallagher in University Legal Counsel and can take 6-8 weeks processing time. Once the signed agreement is in place, vendors are established in HokieMart, and an invoice received, payment can be processed, which can take an additional 30-60 days. Advance planning is needed for any vendor partnerships and/or advanced payment. 

For more information on billing student accounts, contact:

University Bursar (0143)
Student Services Building Suite 150 Virginia Tech
800 Washington Street SW
Blacksburg, VA 24061 

For more information on establishing a vendor in HokieMart, contact:

Lynn Meadows, Travel Supervisor
Univ Controller-Operating (0312)
North End Center, Suite 3300
300 Turner Street NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States 

For information on wire transfers, contact:

April Everhart , Accounts Payable Analyst
University Controller
North End Center, Suite 3300
300 Turner Street, NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061 

Faculty and teaching assistants who seek reimbursement from program funds must submit a university Travel Authorization (TA) a minimum of 30 days prior to travel. 

Travel Loans/Advances can be requested to cover expenses being purchased in country on the program's behalf as part of the Travel Authorization. Allow three working days for processing. Loan funds will be made available to the requestor 15 working days prior to departure date. 

Documentation in the form of itemized receipts must be submitted to the Controller's Office for all expenses incurred on the program's behalf other than those paid for in advance as part of the group (such as airfare or other HokieMart transactions). Expenses incurred for which there are no receipts may not be reimbursed. It's advised to carry a receipt book while traveling.

Review the following Controller's Office Travel website for more information:

Upon program return, faculty and teaching assistants who submitted TAs need to submit a Travel Reimbursement (TR) expense report  as quickly as possible. Travel Loans are due within 30 days of return. Failure to repay the travel loan can result in payroll deduction. All original receipts are to be submitted with the expense report. All receipts must be converted to USD. 

With questions regarding travel reimbursement, contact:

Lynn Meadows, Travel Supervisor
Univ Controller-Operating (0312)
North End Center, Suite 3300
300 Turner Street NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061
United States