Do You Get Paid to Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

Do you get paid to host an international exchange student? If you are open to experiencing different cultures, and you have a spare room, then yes.

As a host parent, you receive a monthly stipend for hosting foreign students.

Hosting international students has become relatively easy. For instance, students in a foreign exchange program don’t care that much about the hosting experience as long as you provide them with a separate bed and a safe environment.

As young people, they just want to experience the local high school, the American culture, and the American way of life.

Whether you are a single parent or a whole family of multiple family members isn’t important. However, you should let the young children (or adults) in on family activities, and make them feel like a member of the family.

This is the best way for them and you to experience a new culture and a great way for the exchange students to practice their English skills.

Do you get paid to host exchange students?

Today most host families are paid to host an exchange student, but this has not always been the case. In earlier days there existed an actual one-to-one exchange program: one student went abroad, and one student entered the United States.

The idea was that the experience solely should be a learning one, where the international student would stay with a host family to observe and learn as much as they could from the cultural exchange.

Even today, you are not permitted to be paid as a host family if you host an international student on a J-1 visa. It’s essential that you note the difference between paid and unpaid stays since it will influence your attitude toward the student and also the other way around.

a girl in brown sweater holding a pen

When a transaction is between the two of you, there are expectations from both parties. And if one of you doesn’t live up to those, it can ruin the exchange experience for both of you.

Thus creating a mutual understanding of what’s expected from both sides is important to have the most rewarding experience possible.

Also, if you only rent out a room instead of hosting the exchange student, then keep in mind that the student is not obligated to participate in any family-related activities.

On the other hand, if you choose to be a host family you are agreeing to act like a natural parent, support, and help them adapt to their new surroundings.

To sum up, yes you will most likely get paid to host an exchange student in your home country.

Where to get started?

If you already know that you would like to host an international student, you must find a company or agency to collaborate with. Sounds easy? It’s not, actually, it requires a lot of work and effort.

The foreign exchange student industry has grown a lot in recent years. Here you see the number of international students in the U.S in 2020.

Find more statistics at Statista

These large numbers equal many hosting agencies who want to promote themselves in the best possible way. Thus, it’s crucial that you do some research on your own to find an agency with a great reputation.

In the crowded place of homestay businesses, some operate more inefficiently than others.

These types of companies can cause sleepless nights for both the exchange student as well as the hosting family.

It might be difficult to receive the needed support resulting in a catastrophic experience for both parties. Thus, you must do your background checks.

With this in mind, you’ll have a hard time if you only go into this for the money, because you might be able to find businesses that pay $60 or even $100 a day – but the support might be on the lowest level ever.

Therefore, the pay per day shouldn’t be your biggest concern, but the professionalism and support of the agency should.

A great place to start would be to look into Studentroomstay.

Here are some things to look out for

  • Are they CSIET accredited? The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) is a neutral watchdog non-profit that outlines strict safety and efficiency standards for the homestay industry. A company that is CSIET-certified will have had to pass a rigorous yearly audit of its operations. This can offer some peace of mind to a potential host family that the company is being held accountable to a third party for how it operates.
  •  Do they answer your questions completely and in a timely manner?
  • Do they have everything in order when it comes to details about safety, insurance, and legal documentation?
  • Do they have a proven track record in the international student industry?
  • Are they transparent about what they expect from you as a host family?

Source: studentroomstay

What are my responsibilities as a host family?

While hosting a foreign student for an academic year or two might sound like passive income, it’s not. To earn that extra income, you’re expected to provide different services for the student.

And many only pay attention to the amount they get paid, rather than realizing that some of that money should go to expenses that help the student.

Thus, it is a good idea to make a budget and a list of what are some of the services you need to provide, what are the costs, how much you get paid, and how much of it is profit.

Depending on the agency you work with these are some of the typical requirements:

  • A private room with a bed, closet space, and possibly a desk or table so the student can study
  • The typical package includes 3 meals per day.
  • Transportation to and from school for all academic-related activities (if you live in some of the small towns far away from the school or university this could be quite expensive)
man teaching girl how to putt

How much money can you make by hosting an exchange student?

It’s no surprise that this is the most frequently asked question, however so many things should be factored into the equation – thus the answer is more complex than you might think.

But as a rule of thumb, you should expect earnings between $900 to $1,400 a month, and sometimes it will be more, and sometimes it will be less.

crop man getting dollars from wallet

First, it depends on how long the student has to stay. Some only need a great host family for a month while others need one for an entire school year.

It all comes down to the study program the student is enrolled in. But generally speaking, you should expect $30-$60 to flow into your bank account each day.

Long-term students who stay for a full year (or 10 months) will typically result in minimum pay of $900.

Again the extra money you earn varies from agency to agency and from region to region. The costs of living in a particular area will of course influence the pay.

How much does it cost to host an exchange student?

The potential pay shouldn’t be your only concern, since a lot of it will be going toward the expenses of hosting the student.

Meal expenses

Obviously, the student needs food, and here you’ll have two main categories to worry about.

Day-to-day food

You should be prepared that your monthly expenses will increase since you are expected to provide meals for the student.

Although you don’t make food every day, you should factor in an extra person when you are grocery shopping.

When the entire family sits around the dinner table, it’s a great opportunity to know each other and improve the relationship between you.

Therefore, it would be great to set guidelines around when you eat together, but don’t force the student to eat everything you serve. A single overnight stay is not enough to make high school students adapt to the American diet.

sharing cherry tomatoes

Dining out

Just as any other kid, many students want to go out once in a while and enjoy themselves with their fellow students.

Although the rules vary from agency to agency, you’ll most likely have to pay for their bills as long as their going-out habits could be considered reasonable.

If you don’t want to pay for these activities you should at least inform the student beforehand, so he/her has a chance to change his/her mind or find another arrangement.

The bedroom expenses

When you enter a hotel room you have some minimum expectations, the same does the student, and these should be met. Furthermore, here are some of the expenses that will be related to the student’s bedroom.

white bed cover near wall
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


No one wants holey, old, or dirty sheets, and a thin hard mattress that you use for your dogs. Therefore, it would be a nice gesture for you to invest in some new sheets and make sure that the mattress is one you would enjoy sleeping on yourself.

Don’t just anticipate that everything is as it should be, instead include these expenses in your budget.


Just like your grocery expenses will increase so will your bills for water and electricity. This is also a cost to consider when adding a young person to the family.

Study and storage space

If you don’t already own a decent desk and an office chair, that’s something you should jot down on a piece of paper immediately, because this is an investment you must make.

In addition, the student will also need storage space for clothes. Make sure you have these things when the student arrives.


As mentioned earlier you are responsible for the transport from and to school, and here are two main categories to think about.

person drives a luxurious car


For many host families, this isn’t a cost that they pay much attention to since many already have a kid at the same school. That means they don’t have any extra costs associated with transportation.

On the other hand, if this is not the case, or if the school isn’t a part of your daily route to work, then the costs of gas should be something to add to your budget.

Extracurricular activities

It can pay off to do your due diligence, and find out whether you are only responsible for the transport from and to school, or if you also have to transport the student to other school-related activities.

Some students might be enrolled in sports and in voluntary classes. This will result in multiple trips back and forth and sometimes also on the weekends.

With this as a reality, you should discuss the homestay company whether you are responsible or if the student should use local transportation for extracurricular activities.

Why should you host a foreign exchange student?

1. Experience the World

Hosting a foreign exchange student is the perfect opportunity for students to experience what it’s like to live in a different country.

Foreign exchange students are often able to speak their native language fluently and have an easier time adapting to their new surroundings.

Also, they are able to gain valuable cultural experiences such as learning about local customs and traditions.

 2. Make New Friends

It’s not always easy being away from home, especially if you don’t know anyone else in the area.

When hosting a foreign exchange student, you will get to meet people who share similar or different interests as yourself. Hosting a foreign exchange student could also lead to forming relationships that last a lifetime.

 3. Learn Something New

Foreign exchange students often bring unique perspectives to your home. You may learn something new from them or you may simply be inspired.

Regardless of how it happens, hosting a foreign exchange student gives you a chance to broaden your horizons and expand your knowledge base.

 4. Bring Peace to Your Home

Living abroad can be stressful at times, but hosting a foreign exchange student makes it even less tolerable.

By welcoming a friendly face into your house, you will make things much simpler. Many hosts say that they feel like they are living in a bubble without knowing what’s going on outside.

Hosting a foreign student can open your eyes and give you a perspective on life that no textbook ever could.

Rent out a room to an exchange student

Remember there’s a difference between renting and hosting. When renting a room to an international student, it’s just like renting it out to any other legal adult above 18 years.

You don’t need to make the feel a part of the family, and nobody expects you to take on the same responsibilities as a host family.

This option is better for people who do not want all the obligations that follow with hosting a student, but still, want around $1,000 a month.

However, you cannot avoid the general requirements such as clean running water, electricity, and so on. For safety reasons, you should check the laws in your area, and provide the necessaries hereafter.

Once you know you are allowed to rent out a room, then check with your insurance company about renter rates, and what to do in case of an emergency.

How about taxes?

As you might know, when you receive money for service you cannot avoid taxes.

Generally speaking, you’ll get paid as if you were an independent contractor to the agency or company, and you have to pay taxes on that income.

Do you instead want to go down the renting-a-room route, then you must pay taxes on your rental income.

The taxes depend on your marginal tax rate, state, and local taxes in your area. But that’s not all. You are granted a monthly tax deduction on any expenses that you have in relation to painting, carpets, windows, floors as well as the entire house.

If you are not an expert, it would be worth investing in a tax professional to get the most benefits.

Wrapping it all up

Whether you would like to host a student or rent out a room, it will be a chance to learn a new culture. And one thing is for sure, you will get paid, but keep in mind the additional expenses that come with hosting a foreign exchange student.

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