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Creating a spending plan

All programs are now required to submit a spending plan to the Study Abroad office via this tool.

Important Things to Consider When Creating a Spending Plan

Developing a program budget is an important first step in planning a faculty-led study abroad program. When creating your budget, keep the following things in mind.

Open the following sections to learn important information about creating a study abroad program spending plan

Keep Costs Down
  • All costs associated with faculty-led programs are covered by student program fees, and hence are ultimately borne by students.
  • We want to keep costs down to make these programs as affordable and accessible as possible to students.
  • Less expensive choices are often more culturally appropriate. Keep this in mind!
Student Numbers Your proposal budget should be written for a set number of students that can feasibly be recruited and supported

  • All program costs must be covered using this number of students
  • If you select fewer or more students, this spending plan may incur a deficit or surplus
  • See the Surplus or deficit policy to learn how money carries over from one program to the next
Exchange Rates Exchange rates constantly change; Protect your budget by budgeting a bit more than you expect to pay
Research Prices Research and get actual prices from vendors in your program location, using local currency whenever possible
Economic Conditions Ensure that political and economic conditions will not present barriers to the success of your program. Make sure you will be able to make advance payments and withdraw cash in country
Program Staff Budget for yourself and extra staff where appropriate
Allowable/Unallowable Expenses Know what program funds can and cannot be used to purchase

  • Program funds CANNOT be used to pay for alcohol, gifts, or donations.
  • Avoid purchasing durable goods that will have a life after the end of the program. These become property of the program and will be stored by UW Study Abroad.
  • Know and abide by the UW’s Conflict of Interest Policy.

Before using the Spending Plan Tool, identify all expenses you will have during the course of your program. It may be helpful to draw up an itinerary with all your activities and their associated costs to make sure you are accounting for all expenses. Here is an itinerary template that subtotals your expenses by category, which will help you to fill out your spending plan (note that this step is optional).

It is important to be aware of the financial restrictions of the country(ies) you are visiting. Many countries will have cash withdrawal limitations and their own set of rules when it comes to payments and the movement of funds.

We highly encourage you to research these restrictions so that when you are in country, you are equipped to mitigate many of these problems. If your program will need a large cash amount, this may be a stress during your program. It is best to plan early and consider how to either have SAFA pay your vendors in advance or create an action plan while you are in the country.


  • Do vendors in your location accept credit cards without chips?
  • Are there severe ATM withdrawal limitations? What is the maximum amount that can be withdrawn daily?
  • Are there high fees for using ATM machines? Are there ATMs at certain locations or banks that charge lower or no fees?
  • Can you pay some of your vendors with U.S. dollars withdrawn in the U.S. before you leave?


The Economist Intelligence Unit, available through UW Libraries, provides country-level information and analysis.

It’s very important to speak with your vendors ahead of time about payment terms to make sure their expectations are reasonable and that we are able to meet them. Any payments made to program vendors must comply with UW Purchasing policies and procedures. Contact the Study Abroad F&A team with any questions about payment terms or methods.

General Policies
For most study abroad expenses, the UW policy allows up to a 50% deposit to be paid to the vendor before the program, with the remaining amount ideally being paid after services are rendered.

We will consider making exceptions on a case by case basis, but it’s in your program’s interest to not pay in full before your program in case of student withdrawals or unsatisfactory delivery of goods/services.

Available Payment Methods
Make sure to talk to your vendors about what kinds of payments they accept. See below for the different payment methods available and their turnaround times.

Payment methods Payer Description/turnaround time
Direct credit card (CTA or Procard) Study Abroad F&A Preferred method, takes 1-3 days for vendor to receive.
Wire payment (for existing vendors) Study Abroad F&A Generally takes 2-4 weeks for vendors who are registered as UW suppliers; payment requires detailed bank account details from vendor. $15 fee per wire transfer.
Wire payment (for new vendors) Study Abroad F&A Generally takes 3-5 days to register a vendor and takes 3-5 weeks once the vendor is in the system. Payment requires detailed bank account details from vendor. $15 fee per wire transfer.
 Field Advance  Program director Funds on a debit card you can use in the field; to be used only for expenses that cannot be paid in advance.
 Rome Center  Rome Center staff If your program is in Rome, Italy, the Rome Center can assist you with many payments such as home base and excursion lodging, transportation, and museum admission.
 Reimbursements (out of pocket) Program Director (reimbursement processed by Study Abroad F&A) We hope to avoid the necessity of using own money to pay for program expenses, but can reimburse you if you must pay for items with personal funds.

The Spending Plan Tool

The Spending Plan Tool (SPlaT) was created to help you create a more detailed spending plan that not only includes estimated expenses and revenues, but vendor names and payment methods. The tool is designed to enable you to better plan the financial aspects of your program, and will also provide Study Abroad Finance & Administration with greater details of your program’s expenses to expedite payments made on your behalf.

Before you begin working on your spending plan, please review the Spending Plan Tool User Guide. It has important information on using the tool that will save you time. Your Program Manager and Finance Manager can also help you use this tool.

Timeline and Due Dates

Proposal Request a new spending plan template for your program the online request form. Fill out the required fields for a preliminary spending plan (indicated with red flags) and submit a PDF with your proposal. If this is a recurring program, we will create a copy of the last spending plan used for this program.
Approval Once your program has been approved by the Study Abroad office and your department, continue to refine and fill out your spending plan as you acquire more details from your vendors and have a better idea of how many students will participate in your program.
Confirmation As soon as enough students have enrolled in your program to enable it to be self-sustainable, your program will confirmed. Finalize and submit your spending plan approximately six weeks before your program begins, and begin sending invoices to Study Abroad F&A for payment. See our online Payment Guidelines for details on our payment policies and procedures.
Pre-departure Study Abroad F&A will communicate with you to confirm the amount of your field advance and will initiate the processing of your meal per diem.
Post Program When you are preparing a proposal for the next iteration of your program, complete the online request form, and  the Study Abroad F&A team will clone your previous spending plan for you to edit with any new details.