Ready to Go to Ireland
Planning a Personal Budget
Now that you have been admitted to the program, one of your first questions is how much it's really going to cost. This section will help you anticipate a variety of common expenses so you can start planning now. If your family is helping to pay for your program abroad, you should discuss your budget with them also.
The Fees and Financial Information page explains what your program fee does and does not cover, and will provide you with an overall estimate of expected expenses. It is important to note that the "Expected Cost of Attendance" information is provided for planning purposes only, and may vary according to your own personal spending habits.
Let's go through each of the items for which you will have to budget:
Orientation and Homestay
Allow about $200 for meals and basic expenses during the orientation and homestay. You'll receive a program calendar in Newsletter #2 which will give precise dates. For now, count on orientation lasting about 3 days and homestay lasting from 2 to 7 days. Your program fee includes the cost of transportation to and from your homestay site.
Allow $75 per week for meals taken in collegiate/student union refectories or prepared yourself. Estimate more if you plan to eat out a lot. Multiply your weekly estimate by the number of weeks in your program. Don't count orientation, homestay and vacation periods, which are budgeted elsewhere. If you are assigned to a university residence hall with a required meal plan, we will bill your family for this extra cost about one month after your program begins. Meal plans vary in what they provide and in their cost. Please consult your housing information sheet for more precise information.
Special course fees
Some universities assess a special course fee for physical sciences or engineering (see the Fees and Financial Information). If you are studying one of these subjects while abroad, check with your program manager to determine if you are subject to an additional fee for your courses. Each university has its own policy. Some assess a fee for every special course taken, while others assess the fee only if a certain portion of courses is taken within one of these departments. Depending on your program, the special fee can range from $1,500 to about $3,000. Don't let this fee catch you by surprise. You will not be billed for this fee until after you have registered for classes overseas.
Books, photocopies and art supplies
Budget $250 (full-year) or $150 (semester). You may spend less than we have allotted if you use library or reference books.
UK Aliens' registration
See Know Before You Go to determine if you will be affected by this charge (about $55). If you are a US citizen, you can be fairly sure you will not have to pay it, but the immigration official has the authority to require you to do so.
If you are in Dublin, you will commute to class. A monthly bus/train pass costs about €39 ($62). You may want to buy a second hand bike (at about €80-€100) to ride when the weather is good. If you are in a program outside of Dublin, you should have minimal transportation costs. Most students walk or buy used bicycles. You should allow for rail/bus fare for weekend excursions.
Weekly costs for postage, stationery, phone calls and other miscellaneous expenses can run $30 - $40 a week in Dublin, slightly less outside. Entertainment can add another $50 a week, if you want to take into consideration pubs, theaters and restaurants.
This is the category that can really add up, depending on how far you go and how much time you take. If you are in a full-year program, you will have a three or four week holiday break in winter and again in spring. Most spring semester students have a one to three week spring break.
You must allow for housing, meals, travel and other personal expenses during vacation breaks. If you would like to remain in collegiate housing during part or all of a long break, the cost will be covered by Arcadia University. Only full-year students are eligible for housing over the Christmas holiday. Queen's University of Belfast students will be responsible for making their own arrangements with the accommodations officer. Arcadia University will cover this expense. If an invoice arrives at your room in error, please forward it to the Arcadia University Dublin office. You may be asked to change rooms. If you do not wish to remain in residence over the term break, you may be asked to store your belongings. Storage areas will be available to you. Students in Arcadia University housing may remain in their housing during vacation at no extra charge.
Most students travel during vacation breaks. You should be able to do it cheaply, if you stay in hostels, buy groceries, and take advantage of rail discounts and overnight travel. For travel on the Continent, you may want to get a Eurail Youthpass (if you don't buy it before you leave the US, your family will have to get it for you and send it to you). Eurail also offers a combination pass which allows students to travel by train and rental car. This option is most cost effective if three or four students plan to travel together. Students who live in Europe for more than six months are eligible to buy an Inter rail pass, which is similar to Eurail but less expensive. You can purchase the Inter rail pass only in Europe, so investigate that option after you arrive in Ireland. To get an idea of what you may spend, buy (or borrow) a recent copy of Let's Go Europe or Lonely Planet and use the prices listed there as a rough guide.
Your estimate for return travel will depend on the city of departure and the city of arrival. Remember to budget for your rail fare back to Dublin or Shannon airport. If you don't buy your return ticket before you leave for Ireland, make sure to take enough money or a credit card with you to purchase the ticket overseas. Returning students also suggest pricing airfare through USIT offices. USIT is the student and youth travel company, specializing in independent travel. USIT was established in 1959 as the Union of Students in Ireland. Seventeen booking offices around Ireland provide a wide range of travel options and flexible fares. There are USIT offices in Dublin, Coleraine, Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway and Limerick.
Helping You Budget
We have included a budget worksheet so you can work through the figures and arrive at a bottom line. Be sure to do this with your family if they are paying for all or part of your trip. You and your family need to agree on a reasonable budget before you depart.
Some Helpful Hints
Make both weekly and daily budgets and stick to them. Keep most of your funds in a bank account or interest-bearing savings account -- or at least in large denomination travelers checks which you will think twice about before cashing.
If you're not on a meal plan, prepare your own food or eat in the college refectory. If you eat out, eat your main meal at noon, rather than in the evening when restaurant prices are higher. Shop for groceries in street markets or major chain supermarkets. Avoid the smaller convenience stores. Share food shopping and cooking with one or more other students. Take food with you on any long train ride; food served in the dining car is expensive. Plan your entertainment and recreational activities around the availability of free, inexpensive and discounted events.
Take care of your belongings and safeguard your travelers checks, cash and passport. Pick-pocketing is common in the large cities which are frequented by tourists. Write down the numbers of your travelers checks and make a photocopy of the document page of your passport (make sure you keep this information in a separate, safe place). Don't plan to buy many books. Irish students rely almost exclusively on the libraries. You may want to bring a few books on your intended subject since books are much more expensive in Ireland.