Money Matters and Financial Planning

Financial Aid Disbursement
UO Students: The disbursement of Financial Aid funds occurs in the regular schedule (at the beginning of each academic term). Most forms of financial aid can be applied toward the cost of study abroad. If you are participating in a summer program, you should know that loans are generally the only type of financial aid available (besides study abroad scholarships for which you apply for separately). Also, there is a an additional summer financial aid application that students need to complete. For more information about summer aid and to access the application, please visit: http://financialaid.uoregon.edu/summer_aid.

Aid packages will be revised after you have been registered the placeholder study abroad credit. Registration is done near the end of the open registration period. After that point, Financial Aid will send all students receiving aid an updated award statement to reflect program costs for the term you are studying abroad. Students may then be eligible for some additional loan funds. After the packages are revised, you may then see a Financial Aid counselor to discuss whether further revisions are possible. For more information, see “Using Your Financial Aid for Study Abroad” on the GEO website. For specific questions about your Financial Aid package or about Financial Aid policies, please see a Financial Aid counselor.

Title IV Authorization:  Some of your program fees might not be paid directly by your financial aid on your UO student billing account unless you authorize the UO to apply the Title IV financial aid funds to non-tuition study abroad charges on your UO billing account. You may grant this authorization by logging into DuckWeb and selecting “Title IV Authorization.” What does this mean for study abroad? When you participate on a GEO program, it is common for the billing charge on your student account to have 2 line items. One that reads “GEO Program Tuition” and another that reads “GEO Program Fee – Other.” Your financial aid and scholarships, once disbursed, will automatically pay for the GEO Program Tuition costs, but not for the other fees that are non-tuition. In order to arrange for financial aid and scholarships to pay for all GEO fees automatically, you would need to log in to DuckWeb and select the Title IV Authorization.  

Non-UO Students: Please consult with your university’s Financial Aid office about using your university scholarships and financial aid to pay for your study abroad program.
 
Banking
Be sure to notify your bank of the dates and country of your program and any additional countries you might visit. This is essential to ensure access to funds while you are abroad. If you do not complete this step, when you make a transaction while abroad your bank may freeze your account because of a perceived suspicious charge. Also, ask your bank if there are transaction fees or currency conversion fees when using your bank card at an ATM. Some banks charge a flat fee while others may charge a percentage of the amount being withdraw. Finally, ask your bank if there are any affiliated banks or “sister banks” in the host country that would reduce ATM transaction fees.

Make sure to keep a copy of any important documents, cards, etc., that may get lost or stolen while you are traveling abroad. You might also consider leaving this information with someone you trust in the U.S., who may be able to assist you in the event of a lost/stolen credit card or passport.

Budgeting
GEO posts budgets for all listed programs in our website. The GEO budgets include estimates for most common expenses. The range of expenses can vary depending on the time of overseas study, the program location, the currency exchange, and the program features included in a program fee. Once you have selected a program, there are things you can do to limit additional costs and maintain a realistic overseas budget.

Costs can be estimated by keeping track of the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies. Verify what expenses are included in your program fee and then determine the amount of funds you will need to cover all other expenses. The amount of money you will take abroad is also determinant upon your spending habits and expectations. Consider these costs when planning your budget for study abroad:


•    Transportation and commuting
•    Personal Expenses
•    Meals
•    Gifts and Souvenirs
•    Communication
•    Books
•    Entertainment
•    Miscellaneous Daily Expenses
•    Additional Fees for housing

Managing your finances responsibly is an important and challenging aspect of a successful and enjoyable academic experience abroad. Be wise and always keep a list of your expenses.

ATM Cards
You can access money in your bank account in the U.S. by using a bank card at most local ATMs. Local currency is withdrawn from your US account. Before you leave, visit your bank to make sure your card and PIN number can be used to withdraw money abroad. You need to tell your bank the dates you will be overseas. ATM machines can be found in almost every country. If your program is in Europe, most train stations have ATM machines, and they are almost always open. It is important to keep track of what you’re spending. If your card is lost or stolen, you may have to apply for a new one by contacting your bank at home. Also, there may be some quirks when you first try to use an ATM card, depending on your situation. Know your Pin number by the number itself and not alphabetically (if your Pin includes letters). You may find that other countries do not put the alphabet on their keypads.

Credit Cards
Even if you do not plan to use them, it is a resource that could prove helpful in case of an emergency.
Some places will require you to pay up front for medical expenses (doctor, hospitalization, etc.) with a credit card, and you are then responsible for getting reimbursement from your insurance company.
Credit cards are convenient for larger transactions and purchases but they do require that you are able to pay your monthly bill while abroad. Some credit cards can be used as a good way to receive cash advances from your card issuer. These advances are often considered a loan and you can get the advance only up to your line of credit. There will also be a higher interest rate involved. The card must be in your name (not your parents) and the advance will be in local currency, not dollars.

Transfer of Money
The transfer of money from a domestic account to an affiliate bank abroad is a time consuming and costly tactic. Try to budget your money accurately so that you will not run out of funds. If you are staying overseas for an entire academic year, you may consider opening an account at a local bank. You can request a list of correspondent banks in your host city from on-site staff member. Give your bank the names of those individuals authorized to send wire transfers to you. American Express offices will cash personal checks from a U.S. account at no charge. Money can also be cabled from home through American Express or Western Union; this type of transfer will take two to five days and the charge varies according to how much money is sent. Another relatively easy way to receive money from home is through the American Express Money Order. Alternatively, you can notify your home bank and request that a bank draft in your name be mailed to you, via registered mail. Parents or friends may also send you an International Postal Money Order, which may be cashed at American Express and is available in most U.S. post offices.

Guarding Your Valuables
Foreign travelers can be vulnerable to theft, as their attention may be diverted elsewhere in a new environment. Money belts and ID holders are recommended to safeguard any valuables you carry during travel. In the case of loss or theft, make sure to have your account numbers and phone numbers recorded in an accessible place to make any emergency calls. (Note: GEO program insurance is medical only. Losses of money, property, tickets, and other valuables are not covered.)

Power of Attorney
When you give someone the authority to act on your behalf, you are granting power of attorney. It is recommended that you consider designating an individual, usually a parent, to take care of legal or financial matters on your behalf while you are abroad. You do not have to choose a lawyer to be your agent, but it is important to select someone you trust. You need to choose someone who will not abuse the powers you grant to them and will instead look out for your best interests. A Power of Attorney may be granted for a fixed term, or it can be left open-ended. To grant a Power of Attorney, the principal must be at least 19 years of age, of sound mind, and must grant the power voluntarily. A general power of attorney is very broad and provides extensive powers to the person or organization you appoint as your agent. Powers that affect students studying abroad may include:

  • Handling banking transactions
  • Entering into contracts
  • Entering safety deposit boxes
  • Exercising stock rights
  • Handling transactions involving U.S. securities
  • Filing tax returns
  • Settling Claims
  • Handling matters involving government benefits

You may also have the option to grant additional power to your agent such as making gifts or making transfers to revocable (“living”) trusts. Whether a power of attorney is durable or not, you have the right to terminate or revoke it at any time as long as you are still competent. The person who holds your power of attorney must be told of your decision to terminate it. You can do this orally, but it is best to put it in writing.

Taxes
You may need to arrange to have tax forms sent to you (they are also usually available at a U.S. consulate or embassy) or have taxes paid for you by your power of attorney while you are out of the country. Of course, you can also file electronically, but you should make sure that you have all of the documents and information available to complete the process while abroad. It is also possible to ask for an extension. Be sure to know what your tax responsibilities are and how to comply before you leave.