How to Get Paid to Host a Foreign Exchange Student! resizeimage 39

Do you have an extra room in your house to spare? Are you interested in experiencing a new culture without having to travel abroad? Do you want to make some extra income? If so, you’ll be delighted to know that you can actually get paid to host a foreign exchange student in your home!

You might think “that’s way too much of a hassle for me.” But in reality, hosting a foreign exchange student is far easier than most people imagine. This post will cover exactly how you can get paid to host a foreign exchange student. From finding an agency to the amount you can get paid, to your responsibilities as a host family, you’ll be ready to host an exchange student after reading this post!

Let’s get into it.

What is Hosting a Foreign Exchange Student?

Before diving into the costs and benefits of hosting an exchange student, it’s important to understand what exactly it entails.

Hosting a foreign exchange student usually means allocating one of the rooms in your house to a student. These students tend to come from all over the world and are usually on some kind of exchange program (hence why it’s called “foreign exchange” or “student exchange”).

Usually, they’ll age anywhere from 13-22 years old from high school exchange students to university exchange students. By being their “host family”, you are basically taking on the responsibility of another child (albeit temporarily).

The great thing about hosting a foreign exchange student is that you get to be exposed to a completely different culture without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. On top of that, you’re also helping out a student and doing something good for the world.

The hassle often comes with language and culture differences. Most of the time, foreign exchange students will be used to another culture and experience some culture-shock when exposed to American culture.

All in all, hosting a foreign exchange student just means letting them live with you for a few months and taking care of them. If you’re up to the task, there could be some money in it for you…

Do You Get Paid to Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

In the past, it was not allowed for families to get paid to host a foreign exchange student. How it would work was one student would go abroad to study and an international student would take their place temporarily.

The idea was that the experience should be a purely educational one, where the student learns about the culture just from experiencing it, and that families should not be paid. Indeed, even to this day, families who host students with J-1 student visas can not receive payment.

What HAS changed, however, is that not all students that go abroad to study are there for intercultural purposes. Most international students nowadays go abroad to study… and do just that!

What this means is that really they are just looking for a place to stay (room and board) and understand that they need to pay to get that.

The difference between hosting an exchange student and running a homestay program is significant. When a host family hosts students, they agree to take care of the student as if it were their own child. Essentially they need to welcome the student into their family. With paid homestay programs, the boundaries need to be set early on so that both student and family know what they are agreeing to.

Where to Find a Hosting Agency?

If you end up deciding you want to host a foreign exchange student, you’ll need to start off by finding a hosting agency.

The heart of the matter is that there are TONS of hosting agencies out there all looking for a willing host family. If you’re to embark on this journey, you can expect a lot of options waiting for you when it comes to hosting agencies.

This is great because you’ll be able to choose the best match for your family. BUT, it can also be negative because there are too many choices to even consider. At the end of the day, there are going to be some reputable hosting agencies that will work with you hand-in-hand, and some very sleazy agencies which will take shortcuts and cause you headaches.

It’s important to do your research before officially signing up for anything. Some key things to consider are:

  • Is this hosting agency CSIET accredited? A company that has a CSIET certification will have had to pass strict yearly audits of their operations. Host families can usually rest assured that these companies are the real deal.
  • How are they answering your questions? Whether they’re being dodgy or straightforward right off the bat can give you hints for how future interactions will go.
  • Do they have all the required documentation regarding insurance, safety, and legal work?
  • Can you locate a previous family that was with them and see how their experience was? Can you see if such a family even exists?
  • How transparent are they in their expectations of you as a host family?

What Do You Need to Do?

As a host family, you need to fulfill certain duties and requirements. It’s crucial to be aware of them before signing up to be a host family. After all, you ARE getting paid to do things outside of just provide a room and place to stay.

Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Providing a private bedroom, some space for clothes, and a table or desk so that students can study and enjoy their privacy.
  • Multiple meals a day. (Some hosting agencies will require this while others will give stipends to the student so they can go out and eat on their own).
  • Transportation and other means for the student to get around. Chances are they won’t know the area well so you’ll have to be their guide.

All of these come with costs. For example, the bedroom and restroom will come with the cost of utilities and electricity. The desk and storage space will cost money as well if you don’t already have it. Finally, just like in a hotel, you need to provide bedding and tidying services for your student.

Of course, for meals and transportation, you can expect to spend more per month so make sure to work that into your budget as well.

How Much Can You Get Paid To Host a Foreign Exchange Student?

Now’s the fun part. Of course, by doing all these services and providing a room you’ll be paid. How much exactly can you expect to get paid to host a foreign exchange student? That depends on a few different factors:

  • Whether you choose to do homestay or full hosting
  • The region that you’re currently living in
  • The hosting agency you choose to go with
  • How long you’ll be hosting the student for
  • Competition and market conditions

If you’re planning to host a student for a short amount of time (less than a few months), the daily fee you’ll receive is around $30-$60.

If, on the other hand, you’re in a reasonably competitive market and willing to host a student for 10 months to a year, you’re more likely to make around $1400 per month.

One thing that can significantly affect your pay is your location. If you’re in the heart of the bay area in California, chances are you’ll get paid more than if you’re in a small city in Oklahoma.

At a minimum though, you can expect to receive around $900/month hosting foreign exchange students.


Hosting a foreign exchange student can be a great way to enrich the life of an international student while also making a decent chunk of cash. Chances are, you’ll also bond with the student and make a lifelong friend / additional family member.

So there you have it! You now officially know how to get paid to host a foreign exchange student. What are you waiting for? Apply to become a host or enroll in a homestay program today to give students away from their home-country a place to stay and also to make some money!

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