WASHINGTON PROGRAM: Budgeting
The biggest expense for students enrolled in the Washington Program will be housing. Typical monthly rents average $800 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 (spring semester), monthly electric and gas bills can average $50 per person, so beware if utilities are not included. And do not forget monthly telephone and internet service bills.
The subway closes at midnight during the week and at 2 a.m. on the weekends, so budgeting for a few taxi rides is a good idea; within the District of Columbia, $5 to $12 to suburban locations; be sure to ask for an estimate of the fare before getting into the taxi.
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 $105 per week for food and general household supplies.
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.
Finally, budget approximately $250 for textbooks and newspapers for the semester. Don't forget to budget money for shipping accumulated items home. It's amazing what can be collected in just one semester.