Do You Get Paid To Host A Foreign Exchange Student?

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Hosting foreign exchange students has been around for many years and it is something that occurs in many countries. 

People who have never been a part of it might have asked themselves in the past, “what’s the point? Do you make any money off it?”

And this makes sense. You don’t know the student and you’ll be signing up for a long commitment where you would be financially responsible for the food and energy bills, along with potentially some problems. 

So, can you make money by hosting a foreign exchange student? 

In this article, we’ll be taking you through the foreign exchange program with all the ins and outs of it. We’ll answer this question and more! 

Foreign Exchange Program

What Exactly Is The Foreign Exchange Program?

Okay, so we need to make a distinction between foreign exchange and foreign hosting.

The foreign exchange program which exists in many countries involves the exchange of two students “swapping” houses for the agreed duration of studies.

This might be for one term or one year – sometimes longer. In essence, if you agreed to foreign exchange, your child would be “exchanged” for a foreign child for a specific period of time. 

However, this differs slightly from foreign hosting. Foreign hosting is where you sign up on a website or through a different third party and agree to host a student from a different country for an agreed period of time. 

Most of these services will agree to cover certain costs including flights and sometimes more. 

The program is a great way to help others and learn about different cultures, but it does come with a huge responsibility – and of course, you’ll need to have patience and a spare room! 

The way it works for most services is you would be given a whole lot of information about the student, including their photograph, their likes and dislikes, their family history and some information about their country, city or town. 

You will be able to agree to a student or decline until you find a student that you might be best suited with. Of course though, you’ll need to understand that there will be a vetting process on you too. 

The vetting process can be a long, drawn out affair. Your past will be looked at including things like a CRB check (criminal background), a credit check (to assess your financial capabilities) and sometimes your medical records. 

If you are successful and terms are agreed amicably, you will be responsible for things like having a friendly environment and ensuring that your spare room has specific things in it.

It must be well-lit, well ventilated, large enough to be comfortable, have a key, have a place for clothing, have heating and include a study area such as a desk and chair. 

Obviously, there will need to be a bed present in the room, but it has to have clean linen which is frequently washed and replaced, and the same applies with towels. 

The student must have the same rights and treatment as anyone else in your family for things like access to the bathroom etc. 

If you are planning to host a younger child, you will have to ensure you are safely taking the child to and from school. They may also need more support around the house and keep them feeling safe and looked after.

Typically, services that you will liaise with will have around the clock support for any problems that arise. So you know you’ll be in safe hands. They’re normally happy to answer any questions – no matter how basic they are!

So, Can You Make Money?

A lot of third parties will pay you a set amount per month or per term, depending on the circumstances.

This aims to cover the costs that would be incurred for things like food and education resources. 

However, there are many ways to host foreign students. If you’re not going for these services listed above – you can make money by renting out your spare room to foreign students that are typically college or university students. 

The UK Government has a scheme called the “rent-a-room” scheme that allows you to earn £7,500 from hosting students completely tax free for the year. 

As long as your property is furnished and has all the amenities that you can expect if you were to rent a property from a registered landlord, then you can advertise your spare room for foreign students. 

Remember though, under the rent-a-room scheme – you can earn £625 per month which is tax-free but any other earnings must be taxed.

So, for example, if you were charging the student the maximum for the year, you wouldn’t be charged more. 

However, if your rent charged was £725 – you’d be taxed on the extra £100 per month for the year. 

Where Can You Locate Foreign Students?

Depending on which way you’re planning to do it, you can either go through the entire service system and they will do it all for you, paying you a flat rate either monthly or termly. 

Or, you could decide to rent out your spare room to a foreign student yourself. If you do this, you can look online for resources or ask at your nearest University for assistance in advertising your room. 

Universities normally have their own resources which can help you and them out with this type of advertising – and will likely liaise between you and them. 


The answer to this question is yes, you can make money from hosting foreign students and there are 2 different ways to do it. 

You must ensure though that you are psychologically prepared for it and you have done your research on the student and country they’re from. Additionally you must have a suitable room and suitable amenities. 

Related: 42 Smart Ways to Make Extra Money in the UK

About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.