It does not take a family of high-achievers, mother of the year or winning the All-American family award to qualify to host a foreign student. The underlying ability to nurture, take care of and accommodate a budding student is at the heart of hosting a foreign exchange student.

Heads of households, who lead hectic lives, may not have a home-life conducive to host a foreign exchange student.  For instance, if a parent does not have the time for his or her own children, then hosting an exchange student would be futile.  Not to mention, being a host family for a foreign exchange student necessitates parental discretion.  Foreign student exchanges are not designed for students to act as a companion to another student.  The objective is to introduce the foreign student into another family’s culture.

Although there is not a specific salary qualification for sponsoring exchange students, the financial responsibility to become a host family is minimal. While there are some rules on how to be a host family, the ability to afford feeding an extra person is the fundamental responsibility of providing student housing. Along with obvious things like a place for the student to study, sleep and do their laundry.  Prior to learning how to be a host family, first determine whether your home meets the qualifications a foreign exchange program looks for in student housing.

To become a host family, the principal family member who plans to become a host family for student housing should be aged 25 and older. A household should have a minimum of two family members – either related by blood or marriage.  Since there are so many types of traditional and non-traditional families, most programs will approve single parent households, host families with younger children as well as parents with adult children.  (Although, single individuals are permitted to be a host, approval from the exchange student’s natural family is required).

In order to become a host family, there are also some key requirements beyond the size of one’s household and the age of the principal student housing sponsors:

Vital Provisions on How to Be a Host Family

  • The ability to provide an exchange student with a well-balanced environment to study and sleep
  • Exchange students can share a bedroom with another child; as long as the student and the host sibling are the same sex and within five years of age each other
  • Study abroad students are not allowed to share ANY beds
  • Even though exchange students are expected to pay for lunch at school, whenever the student is not at school, the host family is required to provide all three meals of the day  (breakfast, lunch, dinner) – as well as snacks.
  • Anyone who hosts a foreign exchange student is required to go through orientation and review the guidelines of the foreign exchange program
  • Any host family or foreign exchange representative (ambassador) who participate in a foreign exchange student program are subject to a comprehensive criminal background.  In America, the United States Department of State mandates that host families as well as student representatives must pass a criminal background check.
  • As a result, all adult members of a prospective foreign exchange student program are required to sign a release or consent form to authorize a criminal background check.

(Certain programs sponsor host family and student group meetings on the students’ arrival).

The basic policies on how to be a host family and provide student housing are simple, straightforward and ideal for people who want to make a difference as well as receive a rewarding lifetime experience. Not to mention, whenever people volunteer to become a host family, they are entitled to a $50 per month tax deduction.