There are plenty of reasons to host an exchange student — from having a rich cultural experience to forming a lasting bond with a foreign exchange student. But for many prospective host families, there is often a question of finances — and many wonder if they can receive any form of compensation for hosting an exchange student.
The type of compensation and support that a host family receives comes down to the type of program through which a student participates. There are two common types of exchange programs: F1 and J1 programs. They differ in many ways — and offer varying experiences for both students and host families.
J1 vs. F1 Programs — How They’re Different
The biggest distinction between F1 and J1 exchange programs comes down to compensation. Families participating in a J1 program (which is the type of program that ISE offers) do not receive a monthly stipend, and usually participate on a volunteer basis because they are genuinely interested in learning about a different culture and helping a foreign student explore what it’s like to live and study in the United States.
Host families participating in an F1 program receive a monthly stipend for hosting and are expected to provide more extensive support for a student. This often means they host students for a much longer duration than J1 students (F1 students often stay with a host family for upwards of two years), and are participating in a more rigorous academic program.
There are other differentiators between an F1 and a J1 program, and most come down to the type of institution through which a student is studying. A majority of students participating in an F1 program, for example, are completing a college degree or other type of extensive academic program. Meanwhile, J1 students are usually seeking cultural experiences rather than strictly academic achievement.
Why Choose a J1 Program?
So why would a family opt to participate in a J1 program rather than an F1 program? There are plenty of reasons why host families would choose to volunteer rather than receive compensation, and it mainly comes down to the type of experience and the type of student to which they would like to open their home.
Because J1 programs are led and made possible by volunteers, they are often much more affordable for students — and provide them access to enriching cultural experiences that they might not be able to participate in through other means. Plus, J1 students are able to study through public schools found in just about every town and city in the US, so families living in smaller towns or far away from colleges or more prestigious private schools are able to share their culture with a foreign student.
Of course, one of the main reasons why families choose to participate in a volunteer J1 program is because they want the opportunity to experience another culture as well as share their own. Not only are students participating in J1 programs keenly aware that their host families are opening their homes on a volunteer basis, but they are also more interested in cultural experiences rather than purely academic pursuits.
This means that J1 students are especially motivated to learn about how you and your family live, participate in activities with you and share some of their own culture as well. ISE students, in particular, want to fully immerse themselves in American culture, and often form particularly lasting bonds with their host families that continue for months and even years after their time overseas ends.
How to Earn Supplemental Income Through a J1 Program
While J1 host families are volunteers, there are plenty of other opportunities within J1 programs and exchange organizations like ISE. Area Representatives are responsible for sharing the benefits of hosting an exchange student in their area and operate as liaisons between host families, exchange students, their biological families and employees of the organization.
Because of the critical role they play in the success of exchange students’ experiences overseas, they do receive payment as they would any part-time job. Many veteran host families (and even some that are brand new to exchange programs) work as Area Representatives to earn supplemental income. Some experience hosting exchange students is helpful in these types of positions, but it isn’t required — an open mind and a passion for connecting world cultures are the only two requirements to become an Area Representative!
All in all, J1 and F1 programs all serve a similar purpose: to connect people and cultures from around the world. Whether you are exploring opportunities for supplemental income, are considering hosting an exchange student for the first time or are simply interested in learning more about J1 exchange programs like ISE, you’re an important part of our mission to educate tomorrow’s global leaders.