Money and banking

Initial expenses

How much money you bring with you to MU depends on your particular situation. The information below is a guide of some initial expenses you should keep in mind:

  • Food and transportation: It is always wise to carry some cash with you for food or transportation. 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 $75–100 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 is usually equal to one month’s rent. Rental rates vary widely, from about $300 for a bedroom in a shared apartment to $800 for a private two-bedroom apartment. See the Off-Campus Student Services website for more information.
  • Utilities: If your utilities (electricity, water, etc.) are not included in your monthly rent, you may be required to open accounts with local utility companies. This typically requires a deposit. Estimates for current deposit rates and other information about utilities can be found on the City of Columbia website.
  • Furnishings: If your residence is not furnished, you will have to buy some essentials.
  • Educational expenses (students only): Once you are 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 Cashiers Office. You also will be required to purchase certain books for each class. Textbooks 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.

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 to withdraw cash from an ATM belonging to another bank. If you plan to travel within the U.S., look for a bank that has locations or ATMs nationwide. You can also ask your home bank if it has any U.S. affiliates.

Representatives from local banks are often at the resource fair during International Student Welcome to provide information or help you set up an account. You can also inquire about banking options during check-in with International Student and Scholar Services or from your host department.