Tag Archives: Fees

Common Study Abroad Expenses

11 Aug

Your first step in estimating expenses is to determine what is included in the Program’s Package.  The school/organization will give you a price that you have to pay to them, and what is provided through that package varies from program to program.  Usually, it will include tuition, housing, a certain number of “culture trips” (may be extra!), transportation between hotel and school morning and afternoon (for short programs), VISA (may be extra!), and the assistance of a program advisor.

Some things to verify include:

  • Transportation Fees – does this include flights, trips to and from the school and hotel, trips to internships, extra trips offered during the program, etc.
  • Housing Fees – Is there a deposit required by the hotel? What amenities are provided by the hotel? Is breakfast offered? What about a gym or exercise facilities? Is there a mini kitchen in the room or are you required to eat out?  How about laundry facilities? An iron? Wireless? How many people in a room? 
  • Program Fees – Are all culture trips included in this price? Books? Exam software or notebooks? Transcripts?  All classroom expenses?
  • Flights – If flights are included, how many suitcases do you get free?
  • VISA – Is the VISA included or are you getting that on your own (this is important for your time considerations as well- VISA can take weeks to obtain)?
  • Books  – Are they included?

In addition to the fees required by the school, you will have a number of out-of-pocket expenses. Many of these will depend on your own choices (e.g. shared or private rooms), but certainly some of them are requisite no matter what.  A great place to find information on living expenses is Numbeo’s “Cost of Living” site or try googleing “Cost of Living in . . . . “

Below, I have attempted to list the most common expenses study abroadists face during the trip.

These costs naturally vary student-to-student, place-to-place so this is not a hard&fast list of expenses. Some of us will spend less, some more. But at least it gives you something to work from!

**[PP] = Usually included in the overall price of the program listed by the school

  • Tuition (???) – Depends on the school, location, and length of the program [PP]
  • Flights (approximately $600-$2500 one-way) – shop early, plan well. 
    • Airline Baggage Fees (US-Foreign Country = 2 free bags, then $75-$150 for the third one) – if you are flying internationally between other countries, this cost may change!).  Remember to book all you tickets at once or you might be charged for each bag on any domestic flights included in the trip. Also don’t have overweight luggage!
    • Layover Fees ($0 – $300) – Some flights involve layover delays in between each flight. Sometimes people end up spending money on food, drinks, entertainment, souvenirs, short tours of the layover stop, hotels, taxis, etc.  To avoid these extra costs, bring a book or tablet with you on the trip, take a bus if you leave the airport, and sleep in the airport if allowed.
  • Housing (usually around $1000-$1500 / month) [PP] – usually required even for home-stays.
    • Hotel Deposit ($70-$200) – Not always necessary – if required, must be paid upon arrival at the hotel. Usually will be included towards the cost of the hotel room.
    • Alternative would be finding a hostel (average $15-$50/night) or staying with someone you know.
    • Costs for Hotel Amenities (Gym, Trash, Wireless, Recycling, Laundry, Dry-Cleaning, House-Keeping, etc.) are sometimes not included in given hotel fee.  Ask your program director what is and is not included.
  • VISA ($0-$500) – Usually free if you stay less than 90 days. [PP]
    • If you do require a VISA and you have to get your own, it may require traveling to a major city to the nation’s embassy twice (once to drop off paperwork and once to pick up the VISA). This often adds an extra hotel and transportation cost for the trip.
  • US Passport ($135) – ALWAYS required. Check out our Passport page for more information.
  • Textbooks ($60-???) – Depends on your program, classes, etc.
  • Transportation ($100-???) – Costs can run at very small if you mostly walk to pretty high if you take taxis or have to pay extra money for culture trips or tours. Walk, Bike, or take a Bus if you can.  Save a minimum $100 just in case!
  • Food ($100-$1000/month) – Depends on location, length of program, and what you eat.  Can range from minor amounts to extremely costly.  To save money try cooking for yourself (especially in the hotel has a kitchenette), eating on the street, or finding restaurants that serve the local workers. Avoid cafes, nicer dinner establishments, or tourist shops.  Organic or Vegetarian options often cost more.  You can always bring a tub of peanut butter and live on sandwiches or bring some boxes of Mac&Cheese!  Not to say you can’t taste some good traditional cuisine! Yummy 🙂
  • Excursions ($50-$200/week w/ $300-$400 for one weekend away trip) – We all want to visit the cultural sites and stop off at a good club now and again.  Try to set aside $50-$200/week (more or less depending on what you’re doing), and spread out the costlier places over the duration of the trip.  I’ve never seen a student manage a study abroad trip without at least one major trip to a different country or city, so save $300-$400 for that one weekend traveling expedition.
  • Souvenirs ($100-$250) – You may not spend it all, or you might spend more. But I’d try to set aside this amount as your base.
  • Clothing ($100-???) – Entirely up to you!  But at least $100 in case you find a t-shirt or jewelry or a hat or something.
  • Suitcases ($100-$150 each) 
  • Common Surprise Extras
    • Medication (for the whole time)
    • Iron (if you have a suit) or Dry-Cleaning
    • Laundry
    • Internet (if you don’t have wi-fi, you can sometimes rent a router)
    • Phone Service (a lot of international travelers rent a phone and plan for their trip)
    • Insurance (Health and Renters)
    • Gym / Exercise
    • Kitchen Appliances for the room
    • Living Supplies (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, dish soap, blankets, towels, hair dryers, plates, trash bags, etc.)
    • Clothing (emergency shirts, pants, suits, shoes, hair things, hats, etc. – you packed for hot and it’s cold, you packed for hiking and you suddenly have an internship with a company.
    • Doctor’s Bills – food poisoning, broken bones, etc.
    • Appliances – extension cords, adapters, chargers, padlocks, etc.
    • School Supplies – pencils, notebooks, etc.

So What About You?  Any Costs You’d Add To The List?

When the State Drops The Ball

6 May

I just received an update from my Young Lawyers Division – Iowa’s House has (apparently without much warning) approved a bill that drops the salary of lawyers doing criminal defense work for the state – from $60/hr to $25/hr. (See  SF 497).

For those unfamiliar with the legal system of America, the 6th Amendment states that criminal defendants (people accused of a crime) have the right to an attorney. 

You’ve heard the Miranda Rights given on TV – “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be provided for you.”  Good old Law & Order, coming through once again!

So, if you have the right to an attorney but a serious lack of money, who does this “providing of lawyers”? — In short, the state courts do.  

There are a whole series of lawyers who take on work from the state defending the accused criminals who cannot afford a lawyer on their own.  These lawyers are often young, self-employed, looking for experience, and desperate for money to pay the bills until they get a job with an official firm. 

It is with this understanding that the problem with the salary decrease become apparent.  These lawyers already have a hard time affording the legal costs at $60/hr.  

Last year, I worked with a Solo Practitioner doing this type of work for the state.  The costs (gas, printing, filing fees, travel costs, lost profits, etc.) for the lawyers are ridiculously high in comparison with the salary.  Even at $60/hr, it is a struggle to make more than they spend doing the job.

Of course, the courts also have a maximum on the number of hours you can claim in the end, and that standard was consistently far lower than the time actually spent preparing and defending the case.  So, that same $60 (or $25 at the new rate) actually spreads out over more than an hour. It all adds up to a pretty penny.

Lawyers were already vastly unhappy with the 60$ an hour salary, and there has been significant clamoring for a raise for some time.  Instead, the House has gone the opposite direction. 

As someone with experience in this type of law, let me say, $25/hr isn’t going to come even close to cutting it. There is no way that will pay for all the losses the lawyers experience in doing the work. 

Naturally, the first response for the lawyers would be to refuse this type of work in the future.

Ah, but here we have a more significant problem – at what point is the State interfering with the 6th Amendment rights and Due Process?  By decreasing the salary so much that no one can afford to take on the work, they have taken away the lawyers for the criminal defendants.

The future in this situation is easily predictable – this would go one of three ways.  Naturally, as lawyers stop taking on the work, there will eventually come a time where there are not enough lawyers to handle the work-load.  Now, 1) the state will have to raise the salary to entice lawyers back, making the new bill pointless;  2) the state will have to set aside the defendant’s right to an attorney and begin holding trials without lawyers present (setting a frightening precedent); or 3) the state will have to  drag things out until the 1-2 lawyers who do this out of their own kind hearts have time to show up.  

Why do we even have this right to due process and a lawyer in the first place? As I told my Business Law students recently, there is a significant risk inherent in the criminal law system. A state-based judge handling a case brought by a state-attorney in the name of the state/local police = a criminal trial.  And the only person in this system that doesn’t know what the rules are or how to adequately handle the process is the defendant who’s life, liberty, and money are on the line.  

How is that fair in any way, shape, or form? Even my ESL students knew this answer – It’s not.  It’s a breeding ground for bad trials and problem of bias and corruption.  Thus, the law gives the defendant the right to an attorney. The right to a trained legal expert who knows what’s going on and what is the best defense to give. The right to someone there on your side, making sure the system is as fair as it can be.

By risking the possibility that lawyers won’t take on this kind of work, the State is risking the fact that the system isn’t going to work anymore. No lawyers means no right to an attorney. No right to an attorney means that an unprepared defendant is facing down highly trained legal experts from the state in a state-based trial system. It’s a situation just asking for inefficiency and unfair decisions to abound.  

Lawyers aren’t asking the state to pay out a fortune for this type of work, but neither can they afford to do the work when it costs more than they make.  Especially, the young solo practitioners who traditionally take on this type of work. It simply isn’t feasible.  $400/hr is not necessary, but enough to cover costs is.  And $25/hr simply isn’t it.



Get Excited! New Fees from the legal Basic Skills Course!

12 Jun

(For those of you unfamiliar with the process, law students in Iowa have to take a “Basic Skills” course their first year that covers everything they were just tested on for the bar exam.)

Now, on with the show.

Just received an email that started off really exciting, with lots of exclamation points:

“This Year’s Annual Meeting and Basic Skills Course are going paperless!” (Bold red font straight from the email).

Naturally, you start going Woohoo! we’re helping the environment.  I’m all about this!

But then they go on. . . 

“It is strongly suggested attendees print off the materials in advance of the event.”  (Lack of bold red print fresh from the email).

Oh.  So not helping the environment, just shifting the printing costs onto the obviously poor new lawyers that just graduated from a college degree that permits students to take no jobs.  Students who paid a couple thousand dollars for a bar exam that didn’t cost that much to administer. As opposed to the bar association and supreme court that arranges and requires the multiple day event involved lots of paperwork.  Organizations who have plenty of money due to us paying for a bar exam that didn’t cost that much to administer.  

Now, before our first job arrives, we need to pay for:

  • The Event ($100+)
  • The Hotel ($100+)
  • The Transportation ($100+)
  • Food (min $20+)
  • and Printing (One document for one event ~ there are several each day of four days ~ was 80+pages.) 

Sorry,  this “Breaking, Exciting News” press release was an epic fail.  Not seeing the excitement this message acted like it was supposed to incite.

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