General Summary of Fees

General Summary of Fees

Although there are no costs involved with applying to the FACES Exchange Visitor Program, you will incur expenses while an exchange visitor teacher. 

Exchange Visitor Teachers are paid the equivalent salary to a similarly situated American teacher, based upon: 

  1. The school district that hires them
  2. The Exchange Visitor Teacher's highest degree as indicated by the foreign credential evaluation document
  3. The Exchange Visitor Teacher's years of experience as a full-time teacher after receiving the equivalent of a U.S. Bachelor’s in Education. 

Salaries range from $42,500 to $85,000 per year depending on these factors. It is important to understand that a teacher's salary may not cover all expenses while living in the United States. You are encouraged to bring additional personal funds to provide financial security and support.

All fees indicated below are in US Dollars (USD).

Fees Paid by FACES on Your Behalf:

  • Sponsor fee: FACES does not charge a sponsor fee to applicants or participating exchange visitor teachers ($0)
  • Student Exchange Visitors Information System (SEVIS) fee ($200)
  • One-way international flight to the United States to join the program ($800+ depending on port of departure and entry as well as booking date)
  • US cell phone with at least 6 months of pre-paid cellular service (valued at $440)
  • Sponsor fee for J2 dependents: FACES does not charge a fee for J2 dependents ($0)
  • Foreign or domestic third party or partner fees: FACES does not use any ($0)
  • Request for extension fee: FACES does not charge a fee for extension requests ($0.00) AND FACES pays the $367 fee to the US State Department.

US State Department Required Accident and Sickness Medical Insurance:

All exchange visitor teachers are required to have insurance for sickness or accidents during the period that they participate in the exchange visitor program (accompanying spouses and dependents must be covered, as well). J1 participants may choose from the following Health Insurance options:

  1. Accident/Sickness Insurance for J1 Exchange Visitor Teachers provided by FACES:  
  • For J1: FACES covers 100% of the premium for participating J1 teachers. Medical/Accident insurance is provided to J1 at no cost by FACES. 
    • For J2 Dependents - J1 Exchange Visitor Teachers are responsible for enrolling their J2 dependents to the FACES policy when dependents arrive in the USA and the J1 Exchange Visitor Teacher is responsible for paying their monthly premium. The cost of a dependent(s) accident/sickness insurance:
    • For J2 dependents under the age of 18, the current premium is $44.00 USD, per month, per child.
    • For J2 spouse coverage, the current premium is $198.00 USD, per month.
  1. Insurance may be obtained on your own, or through the host school district via payroll deduction. In 2022, employees in South Carolina paid on average $1,712 USD toward their insurance coverage. We encourage teachers to enroll in school plans, which are more comprehensive than emergency coverage. Cost varies greatly depending on which school plan you choose and whether you have family joining you. Teachers should budget a minimum of $150-$300/month for school’s insurance policy. If choosing this option, FACES will enroll the J1 Exchange Visitor Teacher in a plan that covers the following US State Department-required benefits at no cost to the J1 Exchange Visitor Teacher ($50.00 USD, annually) as these benefits may not be covered in a typical host school district health plan: 
    1. Medical benefits of at least $100,000 per accident or illness;
    2. Repatriation of remains in the amount of $25,000; 
    3. A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness.
    4. NOTE: Accompanying spouse and dependents (J2) may be included in the health insurance obtained through the host school district but the J1 Exchange Visitor Teacher is responsible for paying the annual $50.00 USD cost, per family member, to FACES to cover the US State Department-required benefits listed above.

Fees You May Experience Pre-arrival:

  • Foreign Credential Evaluation from a NACES or AICE-approved agency. Cost varies from $150 to $350 depending on which agency you choose. If original documents need to be translated into English, additional fees may be required.
  • Criminal Background Check from Home Country. Cost varies from $10 - $180 depending on country of origin.
  • Online Non-immigrant Visa Application fee (form DS-160), currently a non-refundable $185 fee paid directly to the US Consulate. Read more about current fees for State Department services. Visit Bureau of Consular Affairs on how to apply for a J visa.
  • Tuberculosis Test - cost varies based on country of origin.

Job-related Expenses Teachers May Experience Upon Program Start:

  • South Carolina Teacher Certification/Licensure - International teaching certificates are annual and must be renewed each year. All fees are paid by the Exchange Visitor Teacher directly to the South Carolina Department of Education. 
    • The cost of initial certification is currently $105. 
    • There is no cost to renew your certificate for years two and three. 
    • Years four and five each have a renewal fee of $50. 
  • Fingerprinting - required for all state employees and teachers are state employees. The cost is $51.75 and is paid by the Exchange Visitor Teacher directly to the provider.
  • Licensing Examinations - In the unlikely event an Exchange Visitor Teacher is required to take licensing examinations, the teacher will be responsible for the cost. Cost varies depending on the test required but range from $130 to $170 and is paid directly to the testing administrator/provider.

Taxes and Work-Related Deductions

Salary in the USA is subject to Federal Income taxes and withholding, State Income taxes and withholding, and Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) Deductions. Based on your country of citizenship, you may be eligible for certain tax treaty benefits. Additionally, J-1 visa teachers may be eligible for a two calendar year exemption from FICA taxes. Please see a tax professional for details.

  • Federal Income Tax and Withholding - averages 10% to 22% of annual salary. Click here to view current Federal tax brackets
  • South Carolina State Income Tax and Withholding - 6% of annual salary
  • FICA - Social Security and Medicare - 7.65% of annual salary. 
  • Retirement Benefits - FACES Exchange Visitor Teachers are not required to contribute to retirement benefits. However, It is important to fully understand a school district’s contribution requirements and an international teacher’s ability to access these funds following the exchange visitor program before making any enrollment decision. Depending on the state, enrolling in retirement benefits may require a monthly contribution of 3% to 9% of your paycheck.
  • Union fees - NONE! South Carolina is a Right-to-Work state which is a phrase that refers to an employee’s ability to work for an employer without joining a union or paying agency fees for representation. In other words, there are no union fees or dues.

Anticipated Cost of Living Expenses

The following monthly expenses are approximate $USD depending on lifestyle choices and based on 1 person (no family members). Based on 12 months, FACES teachers can earn a $2,700 to $5,200 per month before any taxes, or withholding. Salaries vary depending on school district employment, years of experience, and earned degrees.

  • Housing: $800 to $1500 per month depending on location, number(s) of bedroom(s), amenities, etc. This expense can be reduced with sharing rent with a roommate. Some accommodations come furnished.
  • Food: $300 to $400 depending on your appetite and whether you prepare your food at home or choose to eat at restaurants. 
  • Utilities: costs vary considerably depending on amount of use and personal preference. Some utility expenses are included in the housing rent.
    • Electricity: $60 - $225
    • Water: $20 - $85
    • Cable and/or Streaming Services: $10 - $120
    • Internet: $50 - $110
    • Cell phone service AFTER term with FACES cell phone has expired - $50 - $100 depending on the usage and various carrier packages.
  • Transportation: Owning and operating a vehicle for work and personal use in South Carolina is needed. 
    • $400 - $650 installment payments for financed loan repayments on used automobile costing $16,000 - $25,000.
    • Fuel, Maintenance and repair costs depend on vehicle use (approximately 10% of auto purchase).
    • $150 - $400 insurance premium depends on extent of coverage limits, type and age of vehicle acquired.
  • Other expenses: Entertainment, clothes, school supplies, personal hygiene, savings and emergency fund, and other "cannot do without" items are determined by individual needs, or desires.

In addition, should you invite any immediate family member(s) to come stay with you, consider the extra expenses you will likely incur.

  • Childcare:
    • Age 0-5: Childcare is usually needed when children are under school age (typically under the age of five by September 1st of an academic calendar year). Average childcare cost for an infant in South Carolina is $584 per month. Average childcare cost for a 4-year old is $500 per month. Costs vary depending on the age, amount of time childcare is needed, the number of children, and other factors. Please contact childcare providers in your school district’s area to determine the cost if childcare is needed. 
    • Age 5-12: Some schools offer after care programs for students at school until 6PM. After-schools sitters may charge between $18 - $20 per hour for care. 

Budgeting Resources: