Estimate of program costs for full year and semester students can be found on our web site. Amounts are in U.S. dollars. Figures may vary depending on individual lifestyles and situations. Please note that the “personal” figure covers only some basic necessities (e.g. local transportation, personal items, cell phones, laundry, cultural activities, bank fees, etc.) and does not and is not intended to include students’ discretionary spending (e.g. entertainment and travel). Note that you will not need to budget for expensive textbooks; you will be required to make few book purchases, if any.
Fluctuating exchange rates make advanced planning of costs challenging. We advise that you overestimate your costs to accommodate these fluctuations. Please be sure to confirm the exchange rate shortly before your departure so that you budget accordingly.
Keep in mind that the amount of money you spend ultimately depends on the lifestyle you choose. Remember to budget extra if you are planning to travel before or after your program. Plane tickets are often more expensive than in the U.S., but train and bus travel has remained relatively inexpensive. If you are a big spender in the U.S., bringing more money would be a good idea. Many students have found that they buy many books, as they are inexpensive and easy to mail home, and spend more than expected on gifts, entertainment, etc. Students who plan on regularly sampling the nightlife of their host city should budget extra money for taxis.
Money and Banking
You should make arrangements for your travel funds early. For your initial expenses, experience suggests that you should have immediate access to approximately £200 GBP.
It is a good idea to obtain a credit card for use in England. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted cards in the United Kingdom and Europe. American Express is valid in most of the larger establishments within larger cities, but in smaller cities, it is less known.
Throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, it is possible to use credit and debit cards to get cash from a bank using ATMs. Students should make sure their cards are valid for international cash use. Ask your bank if you will need a valid international PIN. Check what the daily (and in some cases weekly) limit is for withdrawing funds, as well as the bank fee charged per withdrawal. Also, notify your bank before you leave so they will know you will be using your debit and credit cards at overseas ATM’s and will not cancel or block them after the first use.
We have found that the following financial arrangements have also proven useful for our students:
- Full Year Students who wish to open a bank account in the UK should inquire with the Middlebury-CMRS staff. Single semester students will not be able to open an account.
- American Express moneygrams, which are wired instantly to the Amex office, can be exchanged with no problem.
- A pre-loaded card, such as the one advertised at Travelex.
Each of the above options will incur charges and/or commissions.
You should NOT have money sent to you in the form of money orders, bank drafts, or treasurers’ notes. You will not be able to cash them unless you have a bank account.
All estimates in this handbook are based on an exchange rate of £1.31. This is an approximate rate of exchange at the time of publication. However, check the current exchange rate between now and when you arrive in England.
BEFORE you leave, you should discuss with your family a plan for getting more money in an emergency situation. Check Western Union details and service fees, credit card services, and ATM availability.