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Developing the Program Budget

Budget Planning Guidelines

Developing a program budget is a critical component of designing a faculty-led study abroad program.  Ideally, faculty-led programs are reasonable in terms of cost to the student, thereby making it accessible to as many students as possible, and sustainable, wherein the overall costs are covered without relying on subsidies from other sources.  Once a program budget and accompanying student participant fee is established, promoting the program and recruiting students is far more effective than without such information.  

Please enter your estimated and known costs using OSU GO’s Faculty-led Program Budget Template

Fiscal Management of OSU Faculty-led Study Abroad Programs:

The Sponsoring Unit is responsible for the overall fiscal management of Faculty-led Programs co-administered with the Office of Global Opportunities (OSU GO).   As such, all payments to vendors (U.S. based and/or International), Program Leader travel advances and travel reimbursement will be managed by the Sponsoring Unit.  OSU GO will, in turn, help facilitate the transfer of funds (income from Summer/Intersession tuition distribution & Student Participant Fees) to the approved index.

Summer/ InterSession or Ecampus Tuition Distribution

Faculty-led Programs generally require students to enroll in either Summer/Inter Session or Ecampus.  This allows programs to project income based on the number of credits to be earned and a minimum number of student participants who enroll.  For example, ten (10) students enrolled in a 3 credit program will result in approximately $3,960 in tuition distribution revenue to the approved index (based on FY2016).  These funds may be used to pay part or all of the program leader(s) salary for the duration of the program, especially in the case of program leaders who are on 9 month appointments and leading programs during the summer.  If Program Leader salary will be paid through other means, the tuition distribution may also be used to pay for part or all of the program leaders’ travel costs. 

Student Participant Fees

Student Participant Fees generally include housing, some or most meals, in-country transportation, excursions and entrance fees, and are determined on a per participant basis.  Participant Fees may also include the travel costs of program leader(s) such as airfare, housing, meals, etc. and may include expenses such as honoraria and/or in-country program provider administration fees divided among the number of student participants.  Faculty-led Study Abroad Participant Fees are reviewed and approved by OSU GO and do not need to go through the Fee Book review process.  Once student applicants are accepted and commit to the program, the Participant Fee is applied to students’ accounts with the assistance of Business Affairs and OSU GO, during which time the Business Manager is copied.

Timelines/ Reconciliation

Summer/Intersession tuition distribution, with the assistance of OSU GO, is generally transferred to the approved index 4-6 months following the program start date.  Participant Fees, on the other hand, will be directly transferred by Business Affairs to the approved index at the time the fees are applied.  Participant fees are often applied in two steps, first a deposit amount (2-4 months pre-departure) and then a remaining amount at the beginning of the month of the program’s start date.  Program Leaders who request Travel Advances and/or P-cards must follow OSU policies and reconcile expenses associated with the program according to the timelines established within your department.  Any surpluses or deficits resulting from the final reconciliation of this program is under the purview of the Sponsoring Department.

In summary, the Business Manager is responsible for: 

  • Any/All Payments to Vendors
    • Approval may be required by Procurement and Contract Services; OSU GO will often liaise between PaCS and the Sponsoring Department during this phase.
  • Any/All Travel Advances/Travel Reimbursements to Program Leaders

Tips/Advice when developing your program budget

  • Be specific when listing expenses and include vendor names or locations where relevant.
  • The Participant Fee is charged to each student enrolling in your program and is based on the overall program cost estimate.
  • If you obtain exact costs or price estimates in local currency, again please use the local currency column, and multiply the amount by the exchange rate cell (B8) at the top of the worksheet.
  • Remember to budget for any/all official program leaders
  • Please remember that expenses for family members cannot be charged to the program budget unless they are officially approved to function as a secondary program leader. Please refer to Considerations for Accompanying Dependents.
  • Wherever possible, please try to budget items as per-student costs. For example, instead of estimating $150 for a museum entrance fee, budget for $10 per person X 15 students. For some items this will not be possible (like honoraria, or renting a bus) as they are fixed group program costs, which do not change depending on the number of students. Breaking out costs will allow your Business Manager to make adjustments to the budget as the number of student participants fluctuates.
  • Once all your costs are included, there will be a total at the bottom of the “Expenses” section, as well as a large balance showing. The next step is to enter a Participant Fee at the top and adjust it so that it makes the balance at the bottom as close as possible to zero (make sure it is positive).
  • If your department is contributing funds to the program or you have been awarded a Summer Session Faculty Grant, enter this amount in the revenue section at the top of the template. Please check with OSU GO to determine appropriate uses for outside contributions.

Please keep these financial policies in mind:

  • No OSU funds may be spent on alcohol under any circumstance;
  • Gifts and donations are not allowable expenses. If there is a need for these types of expenses you should check with your department to see if there is a discretionary fund to pay for them;
  • Avoid purchasing durable goods that will have a life after the end of the program – these become property of the program and need to be stored by the Sponsoring Department;
  • Familiarize yourself with OSU’s Purchasing and Contract Ethics Policy.

Exchange Rates

  • In addition to determining a base number of students, you should also plan for a conservative exchange rate.

Student Numbers

  • Your spending plan should include estimates based on a minimum, maximum, and 'in between' number of students. These numbers need to represent what the program can feasibly recruit and also support while abroad. The program spending plan must zero-out (all costs must be covered) using this number of students. If you end up selecting fewer or more students, this spending plan will likely incur a deficit or surplus, which is ultimately managed by the sponsoring department. 

Protecting the Budget

It is not always easy to get reliable numbers in advance for faraway costs that you will incur in the future. Do your best to get a sense of actual expected costs, and take into account factors like the exchange rate, which may tend to change over time. It is advisable to budget a bit more than you expect to pay for some items, or to expect a worsening exchange rate. The three best things you can do to budget accurately are:

  1. Do not guess – do research and use local contacts to get actual prices;
  2. Acquire commitments from vendors on how much they will charge you. Get documentation that you can bring with you as back up;
  3. Obtain price quotes and commitments from vendors in U.S. DOLLARS whenever possible to avoid risks associated with currency fluctuations. Your budget will be calculated in dollars, so committing to pay for line items in U.S. dollars is highly preferable.

Affordability and Accessibility

All costs associated with faculty-led programs are generated by Summer / InterSession Tuition and Student Participant Fees, and hence, are ultimately borne by students. Identify less expensive yet safe options as they are often more culturally authentic and appropriate.  Although students can, in some instances, receive a portion of their Financial Aid to help fund their study abroad program, oftentimes, the funds are in the form of loans, and may even diminish the amount of aid allocation per term that they receive during the remainder of the year.

Notes On Line Items

Faculty/Staff Salary

Forthcoming Summer 2016

Per Diem

Forthcoming Summer 2016

Housing and Food

Forthcoming Summer 2016

Contingency Funds

Forthcoming Summer 2016

In-Country Coordinator

Many programs make use of a coordinator with local knowledge, language skills and contacts. This person typically helps with program research (finding housing, scheduling activities, getting price information, making reservations). If you need assistance in identifying reputable in-country coordinators, please consult with OSU GO as we may be able to assist.

Communication & Phones

OSU GO highly recommends that all Program Leaders have a working international cell phone for the duration of your program. You can obtain this by renting, borrowing, or purchasing a phone abroad. If you will be in remote areas or areas with little or unreliable service, you might consider a satellite phone to ensure reliable contact. Be sure to include this expense in your program budget.

Next Steps

Once you have drafted a preliminary budget, request to meet with an OSU GO Faculty-led Team member and the Business Manager (of the Sponsoring Department) to go over specific line items, ask questions and establish a good understanding of your intended program activities.   This is also a good time to discuss what, if any, service contracts may need to be processed prior to making payments (pre-departure). 

Program budgets generally rely on two primary sources of income. Tuition distribution (from Summer/Intersession) and participant fees collected from each committed student.  Combined, these two sources should cover the majority, if not all of the expenses that are  incurred by the Department.  The Department is responsible for all Co-leader’s travel reimbursement and all agreed upon expenses borne by the co-leader in terms of carrying out the program.  The least complicated form of payment is to partner with an in-country Program Provider or travel agency so that the majority of the costs can be paid in one lump sum to an entity with which OSU has signed a contract or program agreement.  

 Education Abroad/ In-Country Program Provider

  1. Eg. Participant costs (eg. $2,500) x minimum number of students (eg. 10);
  2. Participants costs may include accommodations for up to two co-leaders or may be listed separately, and then factored into the overall Participant Fee.

Services and deliverables often include:

  1. Lodging
  2. Group Meals
  3. Ground Transportation
  4. Classroom/ Computer lab rental
  5. Group Excursions (admission fees, stipends for guest speakers)

 Key Costs Incurred by Students

 Billed to OSU Student Account:

  • Tuition (per credit, resident rate, differential tuition may apply)
  • Participant Fee (includes: lodging, ground transportation, excursions, some meals, classroom space, etc.)
  • International Accident & Sickness Insurance
  • Student Health Services Travel Consultation fee (optional)
  • Student Health Services Immunizations (optional/varies)

Out of Pocket Expenses:

  • Airfare (unless group travel is arranged by the sponsoring unit)
  • Passport
  • Visa/ Entry-Exit Tax
  • Meals
  • Books/ Supplies
  • Incidentals (phone, laundry, misc.)

OSU GO does not charge an application fee nor administration fee for OSU faculty-led programs at this time.