Preparing a Budget

Budgets are typically required for independent research opportunities as well as some post-graduate fellowships. It is important that you think about your whole proposed project and break it down into specific budget items (food, lodging, transportation, etc.) that you expect to pay.

Questions to consider

  • What do you envision your daily routine to look like?
  • What expenses are necessary for you to complete your project — before and during your experience?
  • Have you already been awarded other funding to cover parts of your expenses?
  • Are there limitations on the types of expenses the program will cover?
    • Be sure to double-check with the funding administrator about transcription and/or translation services. Some programs place that responsibility on the student researcher themselves!

Research Tips

Do some research online when calculating your anticipated expenses, so that your budget can be as accurate as possible. You might check out websites such as:

  • Travel: STA Travel, Student Universe, city- or country-specific transportation services
  • Housing: Airbnb, Craigslist, university sites for visiting students, hostels, student apartments
  • Food/living: local experts (ex. faculty at regional centers), travel guides (ex. Let’s Go, Lonely Planet), expat sites
  • Unusual expenses: government sites for visas, inoculations, etc.
  • Research-related expenses: access to museums, copying fees at archives, etc.
  • Talk to another student (undergraduate and graduate student alike) who has travelled to or lived in your proposed destination already. They may be a fountain of local knowledge!

Budget strategies

  • Be realistic. Do your research on project-related costs.
  • Be reasonable. Do not be too extravagant in your estimates (sorry, no five-star hotels!), but not too thrifty (please eat more than cereal). Without going overboard, be sure that you are including enough funding for housing, transportation (international and domestic), food, and project-related expenses. You will not be successful if you develop a wonderful project, but then have no financial means of seeing it through to success. Be sure to live in a safe place and eat a balanced diet—it will directly impact your experience and set you up for success! 
    • Sadly, entertainment does not warrant its own budget line item.
  • Be comprehensive: Be sure to include all anticipated expenses and do not artificially deflate your total request because you think it will make your appliation more likely to be funded.
    • Don’t forget to include all incidental expenses such as: visa, vaccinations, internet and phone services, taxes, pharmacies, health insurance, etc.