WASHINGTON PROGRAM: Budgeting

Housing is the biggest expense for students enrolled in the Washington Program. Typical monthly rents average $1,000-$1,200 per person, with the critical variables being the number of other students in the apartment, the location and condition of the housing, whether utilities are included, and whether the apartment is furnished. During the winter (December through February), monthly electric and gas bills can range from $200-$300 per apartment if not included in the rent. Other costs include monthly telephone and internet service bills.

Household bills vary according to taste and inclination. Packing lunches and bulk shopping will help lower the overall expenses, as will regular preparation of meals in the apartment. The average is around $500 per month for food and general household supplies.

Transportation options in Washington include buses, Metro, taxis, biking, and walking.  Students should budget $400-$700 per semester for public transportation and taxis.  This amount will vary depending on the mode of transportation and location of the student’s apartment and internship.

Entertainment is another important budget item. Most museums and monuments are free, and the Kennedy Center has free live entertainment every night, but there are many other options at various costs available throughout the D.C. area. Part of the Washington experience is sampling the wide variety of restaurants-not all of which are overly expensive. For those over the age of 21, bars and clubs are a big part of the Washington scene; some places offer specials or have no cover charges. Be sure to bring your student I.D. in order to take advantage of discounts at movies, shows, and certain exhibits.

Other expenses to plan for include furnishings (if necessary), apartment supplies, dry cleaning, activities, travel, a winter coat, a professional wardrobe, and shipping accumulated items home at the end of the semester.

Finally, budget approximately $300 for textbooks and newspapers for the semester.