AFS Participants on the high school program enter the United States on Secondary School J-1 Visas State Department Regulations for this visa category the regulations state that: “...Exchange students may not be employed on either a full-time or part-time basis but may accept sporadic or intermittent employment such as babysitting or yard work.”
Your hosted participant should arrive with suitable clothing for the duration of the program. Certain clothing items, however, may not be available in their home country and some clothing they bring may not be appropriate for certain situations.
If your hosted participant needs additional clothing but does not have the necessary funds, contact your AFS Volunteer for assistance. Local volunteers may be able to find new or used clothing that could be donated for use during your hosted participant’s stay. Some AFS communities have clothing pools for this purpose.
Hosted participants are advised to have around $250 per month available for personal expenses while on program, or $2,500 for the year program and $1,250 for the semester program. This should cover expenses such as personal hygiene products, entertainment, social outings, any gifts, and the school yearbook. Many hosted participants opt to have access to funds in their home country via automatic debit or credit cards and can easily obtain money in this manner. Host families must NOT open a joint account with their hosted participant, nor allow the hosted participant to deposit their money into the family’s bank account.
It may be helpful for your family to suggest a budget on which your hosted participant can live wisely and comfortably. Your hosted participant may not be familiar with typical expenses in the U.S. Some hosted participants will want to buy small gifts towards the end of their year to take home to their families and friends, in which case they will need to budget accordingly.
Hosted participants are discouraged from spending a great deal of money on gifts and souvenirs and from accepting expensive gifts. Extravagant gift giving conflicts with the purpose of the AFS programs. Despite AFS recommendation, some hosted participants may not arrive with adequate spending money. If you feel your hosted participant does not have adequate funds, please contact your AFS Liaison. Please review the Budget Sheet in the Participant and Host Family Questionnaire with your hosted participant to help them understand the importance of budgeting.
Remind your hosted participant that they should NOT keep valuable items in their school locker or to bring expensive items to school (i.e. jewelry, electronics, credit cards, large amounts of cash, etc.).
Experienced Host Family Advice: For money issues, think hard about the budget for the student, and make it absolutely clear what you will pay for and what they will pay for. Be prepared for the possibility that the kid will be a kid and try to get you to pay for things that were not agreed upon and know how you will deal with that if it happens.
Common Expenses for Hosted Participants
Hosted participants are responsible for covering the costs of personal, optional activities both inside and outside of school, including entertainment. Potential high school expenses include elective course fees, graduation packages, school trips, the yearbook, and proms. As these are all optional expenses, hosted participants are expected to cover them as well.
You may choose to cover any of these expenses, as you would for your own child(ren). Although very kind, this is NOT expected of the host family.
Check with your hosted participant’s school counselor, as some schools might cover the cost of some of these items for exchange students.
AFS Participants may choose to cover expenses using their own money or with money earned from occasional work, like yard work or baby-sitting. Whether or not you choose to cover these expenses for your hosted participant, it is important that you and your hosted participant agree, early on, who will be responsible for covering these expenses. Awkwardness arises when lack of clarity results from conflicting expectations. Be sure to review with your hosted participant the Money Matters section of the Participant and Host Family Questionnaire.
Common Banking Questions
Can hosted participants open a bank account, since they are under 18? No. Someone must be 18 years or older to open a checking account in their name only. Minors (under age 18) cannot own a checking account in their name alone. A person must be at least 14 years of age to open a checking account. A legal guardian co-owner is required for those between 14 and 18 years. Host families may not open a joint bank account with their student.
For FLEX and YES students, they should have direct access to their stipend and the host family is not responsible for holding onto or managing the student's stipend money. If a student is displaying severe budgeting concerns or if you have any other stipend-related concerns, please reach out to your AFS Liaison or Support Coordinator. Refer to the FLEX and YES Spending Guidelines for more information regarding Government Sponsored Programs students.
What is the best type of card, debit card or credit card? Debit cards transfer money directly from your checking account with a bank. Credit cards charge interest unless the balance owed is paid off in full immediately. What is most important is that hosted participants and their parents liaise with their bank/credit card issuer BEFORE going on program to be sure that their debit/credit card will work in the USA.