Hosting foreign exchange students is a big market for U.S. education — both for grade schools and higher education institutions. You may know that thanks to the J-1 and F-1 exchange visitor visa programs in the United States, foreign exchange students are able to attend a private or public school for half a year or a full year.
What you may not realize is that host families are often compensated for hosting a foreign exchange student.
How do you get this compensation and how much money can you get? Keep reading for all of the details, so you can decide if hosting a foreign exchange student makes sense for your family.
You can earn compensation for hosting foreign exchange students.
Whether you receive compensation for hosting a foreign exchange student, plus how much you get, depends on the program you work with and your location. Some programs pay you a stipend at the start. Others may pay you for any expenses incurred after you reach a certain dollar value. Others don’t pay you at all.
Host families aren't paid for any students on a J-1 visa. They only receive payment for students on an F-1 visa. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.”
How much money can you earn hosting a foreign exchange student?
Compensation for hosting a foreign exchange student on an F-1 visa in the U.S. varies. For example, one popular program called StudentRoomStay (SRS) pays a stipend to hosts for day-to-day food and accommodation expenses.
Families in Seattle earn $1,368–$1,568 per month. Meanwhile, families in Orlando get $1,500–$1,700 per month.
Is the money you earn for hosting a foreign exchange student worth it?
Hosting a foreign exchange student is really about the experience, not the money. While you earn some cash on top of your expenses for meals, utilities, and transportation of the student, there’s a lot of time that goes into the process.
You have to be willing and able to be there for the student just like a parent, giving them a safe and memorable experience. Plus, if your own child is part of the program and will study abroad in the exchange student's home, the costs and compensation probably even out.
A former foreign exchange student from the Netherlands who lived with a host family in Kentucky for the 2015–2016 school year, Linda Brouwers, told U.S. News, "I learned a lot about the American culture by living in a local host family. They treated me as their own daughter, which is something I am forever grateful for."