Carleton-funded fellowship applications require you to create a budget for your proposal. Our first question is whether your budget request is reasonable – does it seem appropriate for the project? If it doesn’t, that can affect whether your proposal is funded (and, if it’s funded, whether you receive the full amount requested).
If you plan your expenses carefully and thoughtfully, you show the committee that you are taking your project and the fellowship application seriously. Providing a budget that is too high or too low for your proposed destination and timeframe will raise questions about whether you are prepared and qualified to engage in your proposed project.
Taking the time to plan your estimated expenses also helps reduce the risk of spending your funds too quickly and being in a bad situation for the final days/weeks of your fellowship. If you have to end your project early, you might be asked to return funds proportionate to the amount of time left in your proposed timeframe. Planning your spending carefully ensures that, you could handle that request.
Preparing an appropriate and effective budget is a skill you will need well beyond any fellowship application! We hope you will find the process of learning how to do it useful.
Some tips and suggestions:
- To estimate air travel costs, search the Web for airfares and try to estimate an average cost. Factors that might affect ticket prices include things like seasonal or holiday rates. Some resources are Kayak, Expedia, or the websites for specific airlines. Don’t forget to include transportation cost to and from airports.
- To estimate daily ground transportation and housing expenses, the Internet is your friend and you should take advantage of the fact that the world is google-able. You can use specific sites like Airbnb or Wimdu to get a general sense of apartment or room rental costs, but you can also google “youth hostel” and your destination name to find out if there are cheaper options (some hostels have private rooms, in addition to shared rooms). Many public transit systems have websites that you can consult for daily transportation costs, and also find information about how to save money (for example, by using a multi-day pass or multi-trip ticket). Students who have recently visited your proposed location can also be great sources of information! Finally, if you have a contact where you hope to be, you can ask that person for information on local costs.
- To estimate food costs, take a realistic measure of the amount of food (including snacks and beverages) you consume on a weekly basis. Try to estimate how much that would cost if purchased in your proposed location. Ideally, you will be able to prepare your own food or eat very cheaply away from your lodging – don’t think of restaurants as your only source for meals. As above, try to consult others who have been to or live in your proposed destination to give you an idea about basic costs. A potential web resource is Expatistan, which compares basic cost-of-living categories between your location and where you want to go.
- For estimates of ‘other’ costs, be practical about your needs over an extended time, factoring in items required in special circumstances. Make sure to check with your mobile phone provider to learn how much it will cost to use your phone outside of the US (for both calls and data) and include that amount in your budget. Many phone plans have a per day or per month fee for use outside of the US that can be cost-effective. In some cases, you may decide you want to use an unlocked phone and buy a sim card in the country or region you are visiting.
- Currency exchange rates can be found at Xe.
- Carleton provides health and emergency insurance coverage through CISI. If you have specific medical needs that may not be covered by that plan, be sure to consult with your insurance company to understand your options.
Other important things to keep in mind:
- Prepare a budget for a modest lifestyle—don’t overdo it, but don’t put yourself at risk by going too “cheap,” and ending up in a place that’s not safe.
- While fellowships will cover some supplies required by your project, we cannot cover the purchase of equipment (e.g., cameras and accessories, laptops) that would outlast the project and become your personal property.
- Plan ahead for immunizations you might need. The Center for Disease Control maintains information.
- The fellowships application includes the option to budget for up to $1,000 toward your savings goal, as you may not be able to work for money while you complete your fellowship. This category is for summer fellowships only.
- You may receive funding from only one Carleton-funded fellowship for a given project.
Budget categories for Carleton-funded fellowships:
- Transportation to and from site
- Transportation at site
- Lodging (cost per week x number of weeks)
- Food (cost per week x number of weeks)
- Passport, ID fees
- Other fees (program, admission, etc.)
- Up to $1,000 toward summer savings goal
- Other expenses (note: Carleton cannot purchase equipment)