Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Money and banking

Initial expenses

How much money you bring with you to MU depends on your particular situation. The information below is intended as a guide. Consult with international organizations at MU to learn about other possible expenses. Some initial expenses you should keep in mind include:

  • Food and transportation: It is always wise to carry some cash with you for food or transportation. Please do not carry large amounts of cash. Most students find that having a combination of cash (about $200) and a credit card is most useful.
  • Hotel: It will cost approximately $50–100 per night to stay in a hotel.
  • Apartment: To rent an apartment, you probably will be required to pay both the first month's rent and a security deposit, which usually is equal to one month's rent. Rental rates vary widely, from $300 for a bedroom in a shared apartment to $800 for a private two-bedroom apartment. Check the Off-Campus Student Services website for more information.
  • Utilities: If your utilities (electricity, gas, etc.) are not included in your monthly rent, you may be required to open accounts with the local utility companies. This typically requires a deposit. Estimates for current deposit rates can be found on the City of Columbia website. For information about utilities and other city services, consult the City of Columbia New Residents' Guide.
  • Furnishings: If your residence is not furnished, you will have to buy some essentials.
  • Educational expenses (students only): Once you have registered for classes, you will be required to pay one-third of what you owe on your total tuition bill by mid-semester. If you have not made the payment by the deadline, your classes will be dropped. More information about payment options and deadlines is available from the Cashier's Office. You will be required to purchase certain books for each class. Textbook expenses may be $500 or more per semester.

Setting up a bank account

It can be convenient to open an account with a local bank. To open an account, you will need proof of your identity, such as a passport. You should not need a Social Security number to open a bank account.

When choosing a local bank, look for free checking accounts (often available for students). A check or debit card is a convenient way to make purchases in the United States. With this kind of card, purchases are deducted from your account balance as they are made. Visa and MasterCard check or debit cards are accepted in most stores and restaurants.

You should monitor your account balance via online banking to avoid overdraft charges. Also be cautious of ATM fees — many banks will charge you a fee if you withdraw cash from an ATM belonging to another bank. If you plan to travel within the U.S., look for a bank that has ATMs nationwide. You can also ask your home bank if it has any U.S. affiliates.

Representatives from local banks (possibly including Central Bank of Boone County, U.S. Bank and Bank of America) will be at International Student Welcome to help students set up a bank account in Columbia. Scholars can inquire about banking options during check-in at the International Center or from their host department.