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Business Procedures Manual

21.1 Establishment, Approval, and Budgeting

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This section details the business procedures to be used in Study Abroad Programs, in an effort to provide sound and consistent financial management of these complex operations.

Reference materials and template forms containing required information that must be obtained and submitted for each step of the process are included or referenced. Institutions may adapt the format and content of these forms to meet the needs and requirements of the institution, provided that, at a minimum, the institution’s forms contain provisions consistent with those in each of the Board of Regents (BOR) required forms.

Note: This policy covers only faculty-led study abroad programs. For information relating to other types of study abroad programs, please contract the Office of International Education at the Board of Regents University System Office at or by phone at 404-962-3066.

Every study abroad program sponsored or approved by a University System of Georgia (USG) institution must be authorized by the president of the institution, or his/her designee, under the authority delegated to the president by the Chancellor.

In accordance with those procedures, a completed Study Abroad Program Approval form must be submitted to the Board of Regents Office of International Education for final authorization. This form is contained in the USG Study Abroad Program Director’s Handbook, which is available online at:

Each study abroad program is expected to be financially self-sustaining over time, and to be accountable for good financial management practices. A Projected Budget form from the USG Study Abroad Program Director’s Handbook must be completed by the Study Abroad Program Director and submitted to the sponsoring institution’s Chief Business Officer or his/her designee, along with the completed and signed Study Abroad Program Approval form. Approvals must be secured for the inaugural year of a program, but need not be secured for future years if the program remains substantially unchanged from the initial approval.

The budgeting process for study abroad programs should be based on a reasonable projection of operating costs in the host country, including consideration of projected currency exchange rates. In order to secure guaranteed exchange rates institutions may purchase currency exchange futures contracts, which establish a fixed rate of foreign currency exchange for specified U.S. dollar amounts at designated dates. Consistent with any contract that obligates the institution, it must be authorized by the institution’s president or his/her designee. For additional information for foreign exchange hedging or spot transactions, please refer to

Budgeting for instructional costs paid from the general fund may consider both tuition revenues and state appropriations generated by student enrollments in study abroad programs, consistent with budgeting for other academic programs.

In addition, the budgeting process should include the establishment of a reserve fund, appropriate to the size and scale of the institution’s programs, to ensure that the institution can meet reasonable contingencies that may arise during the operation of the program. It is recommended that an amount not less than 5% nor more than 20% of the program fees be budgeted for this reserve.

USG students who participate in approved study abroad programs should normally be assessed tuition and program fees by their home institution (or the sponsoring institution) Bursar’s Office. Study Abroad Offices and program directors should avoid the direct receipt of payments from students, whenever possible. Permitted exceptions include the payment of an initial application fee. Study Abroad Offices and program directors should provide to the Bursar’s Office necessary information about each student and his/her appropriate program charges, so that these can be entered into the institution’s student information system.

In most instances, a USG student should remain registered at his/her home institution during the period of international study. Students remain eligible for all appropriate financial aid. Financial aid awards may be adjusted to include the higher costs of travel, living expenses, etc. that may be incurred for the study abroad program.

Study abroad fees generally consist of two components:

  1. Tuition and mandatory student fees related to the actual registration for classes. All study abroad students pay a minimum of in-state tuition and applicable mandatory fees, some of which may be waived in accordance with BOR policy. Whenever possible, tuition should be assessed by the regular student information system when registration occurs. Payment due dates and refund dates should be the same as those for students taking campus-based courses.

    Tuition charges for out-of-state students are set at a minimum of in-state tuition plus a $250 surcharge per term. A higher surcharge may be assessed if approved by the president of the institution or her/his designee, but the tuition and surcharge should never exceed the BOR approved limit for out-of-state tuition charges.

  2. Program specific fees (for travel, lodging, meals, exchange rate variance, etc.). These program fees should be assessed in the student information system whenever possible. The payment deadlines and refund schedules for these fees will vary from program to program. Payment due dates and refund dates can be earlier, but should not be later, than the due dates and refund dates for students taking campus-based courses.

Financial activity attributable to study abroad programs is recorded in two funds: General funds (E&G) and Agency funds.

  1. Student tuition and applicable mandatory fee revenue is assessed and recorded in General funds (E&G) as tuition revenue. Salaries and benefits of program faculty and staff should be paid from applicable departmental E&G funds.

    Note: Costs of instruction and other instructionally related costs such as faculty travel, lodging, and meals, and other instructional expenses such as tutors, lecturers, room rental, etc., may be paid from E&G funds.

  2. Program fee revenue and related expenses are recorded in an Agency fund account specific to the responsible program or office. Student-specific expenses must be paid from the Agency account. Typical student specific costs include travel, lodging, tours, meals, event fees, and student supplies. Students are also assessed an additional program fee to cover such things as the cost of travel and non-instructional costs of conducting the program.

    Note: If an Agency account has been inactive for eighteen (18) months, with no deposits or expenditures, any excess funds remaining in the account must be transferred to another study abroad program fund or to the general fund.

It is recommended that the revenues and expenditures of study abroad program accounts be audited at least once every three years. This audit may be performed by institution internal auditors, Board of Regents internal auditors, State of Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts auditors, or external auditors.

To the maximum extent possible, arrangements for goods and services needed while abroad should be paid directly to the vendor from the General fund account and/or Agency account established for the study abroad program. There are, however, situations where payment for goods and services abroad must be rendered at the time they are acquired. In these situations, institutions may utilize several methods to make payments while abroad.

Any of the following (or a combination of) can be used for purchases and expenses associated with a studies abroad program:

  • Corporate card
  • Bank account in foreign country

    Note: Please refer to Section 9.1, Banking, for the appropriate process.

  • Procurement card (PCard)
    Note: The PCard may be used for the following:

    • Student food, lodging and travel (Agency accounts)
    • Entrance fees to educational venues (Agency accounts)
    • Operating Expenses and Supplies (Agency accounts)
    • Fuel for rental vehicles (Agency accounts)
    • Emergency situations
  • Check request
  • ATM card
  • Stored value card
  • Traveler’s check
  • Cash advance/petty cash advance to an authorized institutional representative
  • Direct payment by an authorized institutional representative from personal funds, with a reimbursement request to follow

Study abroad programs should comply with all applicable BOR and institution policies regarding procurement and use of these payment methods.

The State Accounting Office and the Department of Administrative Services encourage faculty and university employees to use a personal credit card to pay for their travel expenses, whenever practical, and then to utilize travel expense reimbursement procedures.

Each institution will have the authority to determine the best way to handle payment of purchases and expenses for its study abroad programs. A petty cash fund may be established to pay for goods/services while in a foreign country. However, due to the risks and responsibilities associated with petty cash, its use should be limited to those situations where other payment alternatives are not an option.

Institutions using petty cash will need to have the following in place:

  • Petty cash application and approval process
  • Procedures for opening a petty cash bank account
  • Reconciliation guidelines
  • Closeout guidelines
  • Management, record-keeping, and reimbursement procedures

Many foreign countries offer refunds of sales taxes, often called value-added taxes or VAT, for purchases of goods and services associated with study abroad programs. Institutions should actively pursue these options, in order to reduce program costs to participating students.

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